US judges in E. Ark. pick Kearney as magistrate

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Jerome Kearney, who had been first assistant federal public defender for the state's Eastern and Western districts, will become the newest federal magistrate judge in Little Rock in April.

The federal district judges in the state's Eastern District chose Kearney, 53, from a list of five candidates selected from a larger field by a merit panel composed of lawyers and other members of the community. Kearney will replace U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry L. Jones Jr., who announced in May that he will retire, effective April 16, after 31 years on the job.

Magistrate judges serve eight-year terms and hear preliminary criminal matters and misdemeanor trials. They also hold evidentiary and other pretrial hearings, and conduct jury trials and dispose of civil cases when both parties agree to forgo having the case decided by federal judge.

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