State courts administrator gives notice
The longtime director of the Administrative Office of the Courts announced his resignation Thursday, after serving through the administrations of seven chief justices.
J. D. Gingerich, who has overseen the office tasked with assisting the operations of the Arkansas judiciary since 1988, will depart in mid- March to direct a new partnership between the National Center for State Courts and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s W. H. Bowen School of Law.
The resignation was announced in a news release from Chief Justice Dan Kemp, who also serves as the top administrator of the courts. The Administrative Office of the Courts operates on behalf of the Supreme Court.
“In his role as director, [ Gingerich] has worked with judges and court employees in every city and county in Arkansas to assist in the efficient management and operation of our state court system,” Kemp wrote. “I appreciate his service, leadership and wise counsel during his tenure.”
Kemp, the latest chief justice to serve with Gingerich, began his term on Jan. 1.
The director of the Administrative Office of the Courts is nominated by the chief justice, subject to the approval of the seven-member Supreme Court and the Judicial Council, according to state law.
Kemp later said in a phone call with a reporter that he has not begun to consider whom he will nominate to fill the position.
Gingerich said Thursday he had originally planned to leave the position upon the retirement of former Chief Justice Jim Hannah. However, Hannah left the court for health reasons in September 2015, before the election of a new chief justice last year, and Gingerich said he decided to stay on during the transition.
“I had a hard time actually saying, ‘I’m resigning,’” Gingerich said. “I had a lot of personal and professional advancement on the job.”
According to the Arkansas Democrat- Gazette database of state salaries, Gingerich’s annual salary is $114,866.
The Little Rock law school announced its partnership with the Williamsburg, Va.- based nonprofit judicial organization last fall. According to an October news release, the National Center for State Courts and the public law school will jointly fund the new director position.
The partnership “creates an opportunity for the law school to assist the NCSC in continuing to create and deliver world-class training programs for judges, judicial administrators, and to judicial leaders in other countries,” organization President Mary McQueen said in the release.
According to Kemp’s news release, Gingerich is the longest serving state-court administrator in the United States.
When he came to serve the court system nearly three decades ago, former President Bill Clinton was in the Governor’s Mansion and the chief justice of the Supreme Court was Jack Wilson Jr.