Jo Hart

Court of Appeals Judge Jo Hart has announced her candidacy for the Arkansas Supreme Court. Hart is serving her 14th year as an appellate judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

“With the help of many friends from every corner of the state, today I turned in to the Secretary of State more than 15,000 signatures to place my name on the ballot for the May 22, 2012, election. Gathering these petitions is consistent with my belief in the importance of having a strong grassroots candidacy,” she said.

Hart said that petition process had been both difficult and rewarding.

“One day I signed up nearly 650 voters at a gun show in Conway,” she said. “When I shared with them that I had retired as a Full Bird Colonel from the Army Reserve JAG CORPS, they were delighted to help me get on the ballot.

“This process gave me the opportunity to listen to people from different walks of life in towns large and small all across the state,” she continued. “I met many interesting and wonderful people, and I thank them all for giving me their time and their signatures to place me on the ballot. I listened to their opinions about their judiciary and their government. I will continue listening to them throughout this campaign.”

Hart believes her effort to secure a ballot position through petition will help call attention to how judges are elected in this state. She noted that the 2010 elections for the Arkansas Supreme Court involved campaign spending at never-before-seen levels in Arkansas judicial races, with the amount exceeding $2 million. The petition process allows a candidate to make the ballot without raising the funds to pay a filing fee.

“We are facing a critical time in our state when it comes to electing justices to the Supreme Court. My concern is that overspending in Arkansas judicial races may erode the public’s confidence in the impartiality and integrity of our judges,” she said.

“I entered into this race by using ballot petitions because I wanted to tell the voters of Arkansas that there is an alternative to the toxic, highly financed judicial elections that negatively affect the public trust,” Hart said. “I don’t want Arkansas to be like other states, where citizens perceive that justice is for sale.”

Judge Hart lives in Mountain View with Brook, her husband of 38 years.

The May 22 election will fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court due to the retirement of Justice Jim Gunter, who announced his intention to retire last year.