Member Spotlight - Chief Justice Jim Hannah

By Ms. Crystal Newton posted 08-20-2014 01:58 PM


Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah was named chair of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and president of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) during CCJ’s annual meeting and NCSC’s board meeting in July in West Virginia. The terms are one year.

Hannah is a native of Ozark, Mo., and the son of Frank and the late Virginia (Stine) Hannah. He moved to Harrison, Ark. with his family, where he completed high school in 1962. A University of Arkansas School of Law graduate, Hannah served as a judge in Arkansas’s 17th Judicial District for twenty-two years before being elected to the Supreme Court as an associate justice in 2000. The 17th includes White and Prairie Counties, and included Lonoke County when Hannah first took office as a chancery/probate judge. He was then elected to serve as the chief justice in 2004, and took the bench in the state’s highest legal position in Jan. 2005.

“NCSC is honored to have Chief Justice Hannah move into a leadership position with the nation’s court community,” said Mary C. McQueen, NCSC president. “He brings a national reputation for his expertise in numerous areas, including access to justice, child and family law, and court management. Courts across the country will benefit from Chief Justice Hannah’s experience and leadership style.”

Hannah’s legal and community involvement is extensive. He was appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to the Judicial Conference Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction; was nominated by Pres. Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee to serve on the State Justice Institute’s Board of Directors as Chairman; worked on national issues on behalf of children in his role as Chair of CCJ’s Court, Children and Families Committee; he was a member of the Court Leadership Symposium and Innovations in Governance programs at Harvard University in Massachusetts; and was appointed by then-Gov. Bumpers and later Gov. Pryor to the Arkansas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Founded in 1949 and comprised of the top judicial officers of each state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, CCJ promotes the interests and effectiveness of state judicial systems by developing policies and educational programs designed to improve court operations. CCJ also acts as the primary representative of the state courts before Congress and federal executive agencies.

The National Center, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a non-profit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. NCSC, founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, provides education, training, and technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.

Hannah and his wife, Pat Hannah, who live in Searcy, Ark., have five children and thirteen grandchildren. He’s been involved in leadership roles with Searcy’s Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club; coach, co-founder and chairman of Little League Basketball coached Little League Baseball; UAMS Parents Club; and for his church, Hannah is a former member of the President Presbytery of Arkansas Nominations Committee and a Former Deacon, Elder, Trustee, and Clerk of the Session for the First Presbyterian Church of Searcy.