Courtney Goodson launches bid for Arkansas Supreme Court chief justice



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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Justice Courtney Goodson launched her bid to lead the Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday, vowing to represent "conservative values" on a court that's been split over its handling of a gay marriage lawsuit.

Goodson announced she was running for chief justice next year with a video on her campaign website. She's the first candidate to announce a bid for an eight-year chief justice term.

"The Supreme Court is supposed to represent your common sense, conservative values, to uphold the rule of law and to look out for your rights," Goodson said in the video. "I'm Courtney Goodson, that's why I'm running for chief justice."

Goodson is running to replace interim Chief Justice Howard Brill, who was named by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to serve the remainder of former Chief Jim Hannah's term. Hannah stepped down from the state's highest court last month, citing unspecified health problems. Brill is prohibited from running for the post since he was appointed.

Goodson's campaign said she wasn't available for an interview Wednesday. Goodson was elected to the state Court of Appeals in 2008 and two years later won a spot on the state Supreme Court.

She's running for the post months after an unusually public dispute among justices over the court's handling of the lawsuit over Arkansas' gay marriage ban. Hannah and Justice Paul Danielson criticized others on the court for creating a separate case over which justices could hear the gay marriage appeal, a move the two called a delay tactic.

The court dismissed the gay marriage case in June, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage nationwide.

Goodson is the second candidate to launch a bid for the Arkansas Supreme Court next year. Shawn Womack, a state judge and former Republican state legislator, announced in May he was running for Danielson's post on the court. Danielson has said he is not seeking re-election next year.

Goodson is married to John Goodson, an attorney and member of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees. She reported on financial disclosure forms in 2011 receiving $99,000 in jewelry, trips, electronics and other gifts from him when they were dating. In 2013, she reported receiving a $50,000 trip to Italy from W.H. Taylor, an attorney and friend of her husband's. Goodson has recused herself from any cases involving her husband, Taylor or Tyson Foods Inc., a company Taylor has represented.

During her 2010 bid for the high court, Goodson had the support of former President Bill Clinton and the late U.S. Rep. John Paul Hammerschmidt, a Republican. Despite those past endorsements, Goodson in her announcement video Wednesday touted herself as someone who's "never been a favorite of the establishment crowd."

"The public's confidence in all our institutions has been called into question the last few years and it's time our Supreme Court makes it a priority to restore the public's trust in the rule of law," she said in a statement released by her campaign.


Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ademillo .

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