PoliticsPress Release

Governor Asa Hutchinson Appoints Karen Whatley, Chief Legal Counsel and Former Federal Prosecutor to 6th Judicial District, 7th Division Circuit Court

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced his intent to appoint Karen Whatley to Arkansas’s 6th Judicial District, 7th Division Circuit Court.

“Karen will be an exceptional judge for the Sixth Judicial District. Her expansive experience in criminal law makes her the appropriate appointee for this position. I am thankful for Karen’s service to my office and the State of Arkansas. I wish Judge Barry Sims well in his impending retirement,” Governor Hutchinson said.

Karen Whatley currently serves as Governor Hutchinson’s Chief Legal Counsel and previously served as his Director of Legislative and Agency Affairs.

“I would like to thank Governor Hutchinson for this appointment. Being a part of the judiciary is an honor and a great responsibility, and I look forward to continuing to serve the State of Arkansas in this capacity,” Whatley said.

Ms. Whatley was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas for nearly 14 years prior to joining Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard where she practiced in the litigation department for four years. She has been practicing law since 1994 and possesses extensive experience in criminal law having also worked for Jack Lassiter prior to her service as an Assistant United States Attorney. While at the United States Attorney’s Office, Ms. Whatley received many commendations from federal agencies regarding her prosecution of federal criminal cases. Ms. Whatley is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Ms. Whatley and her husband, Trey, have four children. She lives in Little Rock. 

Ms. Whatley’s term begins on March 1, 2022, and expires on December 31, 2024.  She will replace Judge Barry Sims.

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