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Baxter Bulletin - "Booneville Judge Looking for a Seat on Arkansas' High Court"

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Location: Mountain Home, AR

Baxter Bulletin - "Booneville Judge Looking for a Seat on Arkansas' High Court"

Judge Paul Danielson, 60, of Booneville, was in Mountain Home Tuesday campaigning for associate Arkansas supreme court justice.

He faces Judge Wendell Griffin in the non-partisan race.

He is currently circuit judge in the 15th Judicial District which covers Logan, Scott, Yell and Conway counties, with six courthouses. He hears all types of cases, but primarily criminal cases and some civil cases.

Danielson is currently in his third term and is also administrative judge for the 15th Judicial District.
He was in private practice for 17 years, Danielson said, and was deputy prosecuting attorney in Pulaski County and later in the 15th Judicial District. He also was Booneville city attorney for two terms.

Danielson was selected Trial Judge of the Year 2002-2003 by the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association.

Danielson graduated from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., and also graduated with honors from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He was a law clerk for the Arkansas Supreme Court. He also was an instructor at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Little Rock and is a U.S. Air Force veteran.

Danielson is married to Elizabeth Williams Danielson, who is an administrative law judge, and they have one son, Erik, who also graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law and recently passed his bar exam.

"My first job out of law school was clerking. I was a law clerk for Justice Frank Holt and I really enjoyed that experience and doing that kind of work," Danielson said. "That stayed in my mind as something I might want to do some day after I paid my dues and got the background.

"I feel like 17 years of practice, (being a) deputy prosecuting attorney and city attorney and teaching at the law school and being a judge now in my third term -- and I am 60 years old -- and if I am ever going to do it, now is the time to do it. I feel like I am old enough to do the job and still young enough to have the energy and I can do the job and that is why I want to do it."

Danielson said he enjoys dealing with legal issues, problem solving, research and legal writing.

"I think I am uniquely qualified to do that kind of work," Danielson said. "I think working with the other members of the court resolving legal issues, studying the cases and the briefs is something that I will enjoy doing."

Danielson said his strongest point is common sense.

"I think I am going to bring a common sense approach to the law and a common sense approach to solving the legal problems, the prominent issues that we face in Arkansas today," Danielson said. "And with my experience of being from a rural area of Arkansas, I am going to bring maybe a little different perspective than some of the other justices. My background being deputy prosecutor and hearing all the criminal cases for this number of years, I have a lot of years experience with the criminal justice system and also as a trial judge. A lot of the justices come from chancellors or they possibly were not trial judges before. I am going to bring maybe a little different perspective than somebody else might."

Danielson said he agrees with the rule that judicial candidates not discuss ongoing or upcoming cases.

"When people come into court, I think they are entitled to have a judge hear their case who has not spoken out on a particular issue and that certainly does not bring any kind of agenda to the court," Danielson said. "We have trained ourselves to wait until the case is brought before us, we hear both sides of the issue and then we decide the issue based on the rule of law. That is my training and that is what I do and I feel comfortable with that. I don't feel restricted in any way and I think we owe it to people if we are going to have a third branch of government, a system of justice and we tell people 'This is where you bring your disputes, this is how you resolve disputes,' we owe it to them to set up a system that is fair and impartial. If I am deciding a case based on the rule of law, my personal views and theories should be irrelevant."

Danielson said education is still an issue that the Supreme Court will continue to deal with. Another topic will be courthouse security improvements.

"I feel like I am the candidate that brings the judicial temperament, the kind of experience that voters should want on the Arkansas Supreme Court," Danielson said. "I have the background, the experience, the training and I have prepared myself to do that job."

Danielson is also a member of the Arkansas Judicial Council, past chairman and current member of the Supreme Court Liaison Committee, and a member of the Arkansas Bar Association Liaison Committee and the Legislative Liaison Committee.

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