Retired Judge to Hear Lawsuit over Disputed East Arkansas Senate Race

FORREST CITY, AR - A retired circuit and chancery court judge from Stuttgart will hear a lawsuit by a former state lawmaker over a disputed 2006 Democratic primary.

Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Him Hannah appointed Russell Rogers to the case.  Rogers' appointment comes after St. Francis County Circuit Judge L.T. Simes stepped aside from the case involving former state Representative Arnell Willis' complaint over his 78-vote loss to Jack Crumbly.

Simes dismissed Willis' lawsuit in December.  In a ruling last month, the state Supreme Court ordered new hearings in the case, saying voters who cast illegal ballots in contested elections can be forced to testify how they voted.  The Supreme Court, however, rejected Willis' request that they appoint a special judge to preside over the hearings.

Crumbly, who faced no opponents in the general election, was sworn in as senator in January.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)