Priscilla Copelin-Abernathy, a Southeast Arkansas attorney, has announced her candidacy for 10th Judicial District Circuit Judge, Division 2, in the March 2020 non partisan judicial election.

The 10th district includes Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha and Drew counties. The current judge, Kenny Johnson is retiring.

“This position is primarily assigned family law matters in the 10th Judicial District … for which I have over 13 years of experience,” Copelin-Abernathy said in a news release announcing her candidacy. “My passion for children in the law has been the motivating factor for seeking this position. I have first-hand knowledge of the emotional strain involved in domestic relations proceedings, having experienced a divorce and having learned how to co-parent my two beautiful boys.”

If elected, Copelin-Abernathy said she will “always be available to all constituents (at all hours)” to ensure that her duties as circuit judge are “truly fulfilled.” Additionally, she said she will “expedite these very important proceedings as timely as possible for the families in the 10th Judicial District.”

Copelin-Abernathy, who recently moved to McGehee, said her practice as an attorney in the district prepared her for this position.

“Specifically, I have provided ‘pro-bono’ services for Arkansas Legal Aid,” she said. “For three years, I have been contracted with the Arkansas Domestic Violence Initiative, whereby I provide representation and aid to victims of domestic violence in each of our five counties, on a monthly basis. Further, I was certified as an attorney ad litem (attorney for children in domestic relations matters), and in order to better understand the entire dynamics of family law, I received certification in ‘TransParenting’, a program focused on educating divorcing and divorced parents to reduce conflict and focus on the true needs of their children.”

Because there are various judicial races in the March 2020 election, Copelin-Abernathy says it is important that voters understand the differences in each of the positions in the contested judicial races.

Copelin-Abernathy was “born, raised, and educated” in Dumas, where she attended Dumas High School. She is the daughter of the late Kenneth “Cope” Copelin and Carolyn Copelin. They owned Dumas Body Shop for more than 40 years until Mr. Copelin’s death in 2015. She is married to Leslie “Brett” Abernathy, II and has two boys, Copelin Neeley and Emmitt Neeley.

Copelin-Abernathy is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello where she was a UAM cheerleader, a member of the UAM Debate Team, the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, and other organizations. She also participated in moot court and similar competitions.

“The education I received from UAM enabled me to, not only to be accepted to law school, but prepared me to excel in the curriculum,” she said.

Copelin-Abernathy began law school in 2002 at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville. She graduated and passed the bar in 2005. “My parents really sacrificed and put their life on hold to afford me the opportunity to become an attorney; and for this I am truly thankful and blessed,” she said.

After “getting her feet wet” as a prosecutor in Northwest Arkansas, in 2006, Copelin-Abernathy moved back to the area, where she has since been practicing.

While living in Dumas, she was a member of the First Baptist Church of Dumas, a member of the Women’s Service League, the Dumas Chamber of Commerce, and Main Street Dumas. She said she also participated in and volunteered for “countless other organizations throughout the 10th Judicial District, including holding the position of vice president and president of the Southeast Arkansas Legal Institute.”

“The position I seek (Division 2) is an area of the law for which I have vast experience, and my energy, passion and advocacy for these matters involving family law is why I am seeking circuit judge and why I’m asking for your vote,” she said.