WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – The Honorable Judge Adam Weeks was ordered removed from the ballot on Monday by Circuit Judge Chris Piazza in a decision the judge seemed regretful to issue.
This comes after a legal challenge to Weeks’ candidacy for the office of circuit judge in the Third Judicial District, Division Three. The petitioner, Judy Miller, asserted in her complaint that Weeks had been previously found guilty of two different “infamous crimes” as defined by the Arkansas Constitution, Article 5, Section 9. This was only partially correct – but it still worked against Weeks.
The definition of an “infamous crime” from the aforementioned constitutional section is a “misdemeanor offense in which the finder of fact was required to find, or the defendant to admit, an act of deceit, fraud, or false statements….” In layman’s terms, a candidate for judge can’t be found guilty of a crime that involved fraud, false statements, or lying in general. If so, he/she would be disqualified from running.
The lawsuit alleged that Weeks, while still under 21, pleaded guilty to four hot check misdemeanors and a separate case of fictitious tags.
In relation to the first set of allegations, testimony showed that Weeks was in college in the 1990s and his mother would deposit money into his bank account. However, on four occasions, Weeks wrote checks he didn’t have funds to cover – all for food or gas. They were less than $30, overall. He never pleaded guilty to these cases. Piazza said these instances didn’t disqualify Weeks from seeking office.
In relation to the fictitious tags, testimony showed Weeks to be the son of a used car dealer. While his vehicle was being repaired, he used a car off of his parent’s lot. He was pulled over one night and cited for driving with fictitious tags. Weeks entered a not-guilty plea but was found guilty – at 18 years old.
“These charges, which occurred almost thirty years ago, were the result of a 19-22 year old college student who, at worst, made some immature naive mistakes,” wrote Judge Piazza. “That the Fictitious Tag Misdemeanor now deems Judge Weeks unfit to run for office is, in the view of this Court, absurd. However, it is the very rule of law this restriction seeks to preserve, albeit unfairly applied, which binds the hands of this Court and requires the language of the Arkansas Constitution be applied without further consideration.”
The judge said the law contains “unyielding language” forcing him to make a “frustrating and untenable” ruling. Due to this, Weeks was ordered removed for the ballot and not considered for office in the March, 2020 election.
Weeks is appealing, he said.
“In his ruling today, Judge Chris Piazza made it clear that he believes that it’s “absurd” that the law requires that I be denied an opportunity to run for office due to a minor incident that occurred when I was 18 years old,” Weeks said in a statement to NEA Report. “We plan to appeal this ruling and hope that the Supreme Court gives us an expedited ruling.”
Tim Watson, Holly Wilson, and Joe Grider are the other candidates seeking office in the race.