Melinda French, a Southeast Arkansas attorney with nearly three decades of legal experience, has announced that she will seek the office of District Judge for Desha and Chicot counties.
A new position created by the Arkansas legislature, the District Judgeship will preside over district courts in McGehee, Dumas, Dermott, Lake Village, and Eudora and will be elected by the voters of Desha and Chicot counties on March 1, 2016.
For the past 25 years, French has operated a general law practice in McGehee. She has also served as a Special Judge in the 10th Judicial District. For the last 15 years, French has served the people of the district as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Chicot County, 10 of those years also serving in the role for Desha County as well.
French has also been the City Attorney for the city of McGehee for the past 10 years.
“Serving as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Desha and Chicot counties has provided me with an invaluable experience,” French said in a news release announcing her candidacy. “For years, I’ve been honored to be a public servant to the people of Desha and Chicot as a prosecutor. With your support, I would be honored to continue to serve you in those same courts as District Judge.”
“As your District Judge, I assure you I will render well-advised, impartial, and fair judgements in every case and continue my excellent working relationship with all local law enforcement agencies and district court personnel,” she said. “If elected, I will work to maintain an efficient, organized, and structured courtroom environment and promise to work diligently to secure funding to provide additional courtroom security.”
“Serving as your District Judge, I plan to utilize electronic monitoring and community service programs to not only benefit our communities, but promote rehabilitation and reduce the number of repeat offenders,” French said.
During her years as a prosecutor, French handled a variety of cases involving issues such as driving while intoxicated, domestic battery, theft, and traffic violations. For the past 15 years, she has prosecuted all misdemeanor cases in Lake Village, Dermott, and Eudora and has been assigned all appeals cases for both Desha and Chicot counties.
French has experience in both bench and jury trials in both counties and prosecuted all misdemeanor and felony cases filed in Chicot County’s Juvenile Division for five years. She has also represented and advised the Chicot County Quorum Court and County Judge as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney. French also has experience filing civil commitments for mental, alcohol, and narcotic abuse for the residents of Chicot County for the last 15 years.
A life-long resident of Desha County, French earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law after earning a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
While attending UALR School of Law, French earned the American Jurisprudence Award for achievements in trial advocacy and was invited to be a member of the Judge William R. Overton Inn of Courts in Little Rock.
A member of the Arkansas Bar Association, French has been a member of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, and the Southeast Arkansas Legal Institute. She has been a certified mediator for 12 years and earned certification from the Arkansas Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission to practice mediation in Arkansas Circuit Courts Family/Juvenile Division. After receiving certification, she developed a mediation program in Dumas District Court Small Claims Division.
French was elected and has served as a member of the Desha County Farm Service Agency County Committee for a total of 15 years, also serving as chairperson. She was named the McGehee Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year in 2008. In 1997, she began volunteering with Paws and Claws Humane Society and currently serves as the organization’s treasurer. French has also volunteered with the Chicot County Humane Society in Lake Village during its developmental stages.
French is currently engaged to be married to Mitch Grant of Dermott. She is the daughter of Nadine and the late James French, 65 year residents of McGehee.
“After serving in all three Chicot County District Courtrooms each month for 15 years and in both Desha County District Courtrooms for 10 years, I believe I have the necessary courtroom experience and dedication to serve as your District Judge,” said French. “I would be honored to have your vote on March 1, 2016.”