The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission has elected Tyson Foods Senior Vice President for Human Resource Operations Rod Nagel as its Chairperson and reelected Lincoln County District Judge Vic Harper at its Vice Chairperson. Officer elections took place at the Commission’s October 2015 quarterly meeting.
Nagel is the first non-attorney and business community leader to serve in a leadership capacity on the Commission. He succeeds retired UALR Bowen School of Law Dean Emeritus Chuck Goldner, who chaired the Commission from 2004 to 2010 and again in 2015. Retired Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck has also previously chaired the Commission, serving in that role from 2010 through 2014.
“Access to justice is core American value, but one that we are not living up to as a society or as a state,” said Nagel. A 2011 Commission study conducted in partnership with the Clinton School of Public Service indicates that as many as 95% of family law, consumer, and housing cases have at least one unrepresented person. “This is a problem that requires leadership from all sectors if we are to address it in any meaningful way.”
According to Commission Executive Director, Amy Johnson, the Commission’s efforts focus on increasing the ability of Arkansans to access the court system so that they can solve problems that cause and perpetuate poverty. Among those who often need help are domestic violence victims, children with special needs, and veterans readjusting to civilian life.
District Judge Vic Harper, who has served on the Commission since 2014, was reelected to a second term as Vice Chair of the Commission.
The Commission has also announced one reappointment and three new appointments. Andrea Walker, Managing Helpline Attorney for Jonesboro-based Legal Aid of Arkansas, has been reappointed to a second three-year term on the Commission. New appointments include University of Arkansas School of Law Professor Tiffany Murphy of Fayetteville, Circuit Judge Thomas Smith of Bentonville, and Circuit Judge Teresa French of McGehee.