District Court Judge Emily White believes her many career choices in law have helped prepare her to become the next member of the Arkansas Court of Appeals. She is running for the position of District 4 Position 2 on the Court on Appeals.
Judge White explains that the Court of Appeals serves as a buffer for the Arkansas Supreme Court in that it hears a number of cases to help lessen the workload for the supreme court. District 4 is comprised of 15 counties which includes Montgomery, Howard, Pike, Garland, Hot Spring, Clark, Yell, Logan, Sebastian, Scott, Polk, Sevier, Little River, Miller and Hempstead counties.
Raised in Poyen, Judge White has served on both sides of the bench in criminal and civil cases. She began her law career in 2001 after graduating from University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She was hired as a deputy prosecuting attorney for the sixth and 22nd Judicial Districts from 2001-2005, before moving into the private sector where she worked for the law offices of Gary Green.
As a litigation attorney she advocated for plaintiffs in a wide variety of civil and criminal cases. She worked for the offices of Gary Green from 2005-2013. During her tenure there she rose through the organization and eventually managed all areas of practice in the Little Rock, Memphis, Springfield and Austin locations.
She has also served as an instructor at the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute from 2014-2018. While serving in this capacity she was an instructor for Constitutional law and use of force, SLES and basic officer training courses.
Judge White served as a deputy executive director for the Arkansas Judicial Discipline Disability Commission from 2013-2018. She explained that while working for the commission she was responsible for the investigation and prosecution of ethical violations against member of the judiciary in the state courts of Arkansas.
She explained that while an overwhelming majority of judges in the state are fine people who uphold the law, but the commission is there to protect the public from those rare few who aren’t willing to follow the law. While serving on the commission she was instrumental in the prosecution and removal of Faulkner County Circuit Court Judge Mike Maggio and Cross County District Court Judge O. Joseph Boeckmann.
Judge White stepped across the bench and became a judge in 2018. She has served as a special associate judge from April to June 2018 and has served as the 33rd District Court Judge for Hot Spring and Grant Counties since last year.
White believes the many roles she has played in the field of law has helped prepare her to become the next judge to fill the District 4 Position 2 position on the state court of appeals.
The position, which is a non-partisan position, will be on the ballot in March 2020.
She stated that the most important element to being a good judge is to be fair while sitting on the bench. While no one wants to see a guilty person go free, the role of the court of appeals is to see that the law is followed and upheld.
She pointed out that while serving as a lawyer she was an advocate for one side of a case.
“You pick a side and you try to prove your case.” She stated.
She went on to say that as a judge you have the responsibility of being fair and waiting until all the evidence is presented and then you make your decision based on the legal evidence presented under the law.
As a member of the court of appeals judges don’t hear cases to determine whether someone is guilty or innocent. She stated that when a case comes to the court of appeals it is because there has been a question raised as to the legality of a portion of a trial. It is then the court’s responsibility to hear arguments regarding the issue and determine if the law has been upheld. In a sense, the court of appeals becomes an advocate for the law.
Judge White adds that her experience as both a prosecuting attorney and as a litigating attorney provides her with insight into both civil and criminal law.
As an instructor of constitutional law at the criminal justice institute she has a wealth of knowledge regarding the practical application of the law by law enforcement.
He time on the judiciary commission gives her experience in examining the actions and decisions made by other judges.
While rules of running in a non-partisan race prevents Judge White from making statements that might be construed as political promises, she did state that she believes the role of an appellate judge is to interpret the law as written.
Judge Emily White has been married to David Lengefeld for 16 years and they have two daughters.