Hot Springs Circuit Judge Named Outstanding Trial Judge of the Year

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LITTLE ROCK, ARK – The Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association is pleased to announce that Hot Springs Circuit Judge John Homer Wright received the 2017 Outstanding Trial Judge of the Year Award. Judge Wright accepted the award at the ATLA Annual Convention on April 28th, 2017. The award is presented to a jurist who is dedicated to the preservation of the American Justice System, the right to trial by jury, and who is an outstanding jurist in his or her dedication to the preservation of individual rights, and free and fair access to the courts. Judge Wright recognizes the dignity of litigants and their advocates, and has a demonstrated reputation for protecting the rights of litigants.

“Judge Wright is widely known and respected as a fair and just trial judge,” said outgoing ATLA President Robin Smith. “Remarkably, a record nine attorneys nominated him for the Outstanding Trial Judge Award. His efforts to ensure a fair trial for every person who comes into his courtroom is paramount to upholding and protecting the civil justice system, and makes him deserving of this award.”

Judge Wright is an active member of the community, serving on the First Methodist Board of Stewards and the Garland County Library Board of Trustees. He is also a Past President chairman of the Christmas for Kids Foundation, and is the founder and presiding judge of the Garland County Drug Court.


Congratulations Josh Gillispie, ATLA’s 2017 Outstanding Member – Young Lawyer Division!

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Little Rock Attorney Josh Gillispie Named 2017 Outstanding Member – Young Lawyer Division

LITTLE ROCK, ARK – Little Rock Attorney Josh Gillispie of Green & Gillispie, Attorneys at Law was recognized as the 2017 Outstanding Member – New Lawyer Division by the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA). The award was presented at ATLA’s 54th Annual Convention on April 28th, 2017. Mr. Gillispie was chosen for the award because of his demonstrated level of professional excellence and dedication within ATLA.

“Josh has helped to develop our next generation of leaders which is an invaluable service,” said outgoing ATLA President Robin Smith. “His dedication to protecting the civil justice system drives his efforts to connect with law students and younger lawyers, encouraging them and engaging them in the effort protect the rights of their clients.”

Gillispie has been in practice with Green & Gillispie, Attorneys at Law, since 2010. He handles all types of personal injury cases and is passionate about advocating for crime victims injured due to lack of security measures on various premises. He is successfully cultivating a new generation of ATLA members by serving as the New Lawyers Network Law School Liaison for the Bowen School of Law ATLA Student Chapter, and through his leadership role in the ATLA New Lawyers Division. Under his guidance, the UALR Bowen School of Law ATLA Student Chapter won the Best New/Reactivated Student Organization, and also won another award in recognition of the Educational Advocacy Program. Remarkably, in the past year the Bowen Student Chapter of ATLA has grown to over 120 members, which is a direct result of Josh’s dedicated leadership.

Gillispie is an active member of the Arkansas Bar Association and the Pulaski County Bar Association, volunteers as a crime victim assistant, and also regularly aids the Pulaski County Humane Society.

Founded in 1963, The Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA) is a statewide association of approx. 1,000 attorneys from all 75 counties that was established to protect the people of Arkansas’ constitutional right to a trial by jury. ATLA supports its mission through advocacy, communications, and continuing legal education.
On the web at






Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association Honors Rogers Attorney Frank Bailey

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LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – Rogers attorney Frank Bailey was recently honored with the 2017 Henry Woods Lifetime Achievement Award by the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association. Bailey received the award at ATLA’s 54th Annual Convention in Eureka Springs on April 28. 2017. The award is given in recognition, memory and honor of the late United States District Judge Henry Woods and his many contributions, and a lifetime of dedicated service to the civil justice system, the legal profession and to ATLA. The award recognizes a lawyer who has devoted his or her career to helping injured victims and consumers, and has championed the causes of those who lack the money, education or the ability to protect their own rights.

Bailey is Senior Partner and founder of Bailey and Oliver Law Firm, and for 43 years has represented clients throughout Arkansas. His integrity and hard work led to his earning the Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year award in 2009, as well as several other community awards.

Bailey was asked on three separate occasions to serve as an Arkansas Supreme Court Special Justice, served as a counter-intelligence agent for the United States Army during the Vietnam War, and penned many articles for publication on various personal injury subjects. His distinguished career has been devoted to protecting the rights of injured and unfortunate Arkansans.

“Frank Bailey is an Arkansas treasure,” said outgoing ATLA President Robin Smith. “Greatly defined by his compassion and enormous heart, Frank has fully dedicated his life to serving the most grievously injured people and bereaved families. He gives without ceasing to his community through his mentorship and also through pro-bono work for people who need a hand up, and is exceptionally deserving of this award.”

Frank and his wife Pat live in Rogers with their dog Winston. In his free time, Frank enjoys playing classical piano, painting, reading and fly-fishing. He is known for his humble spirit, gentle soul, and incredible lawyering skills.


Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association Names Tre Kitchens 2017 Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year

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LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – The Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association recently named Tre Kitchens of the Brad Hendricks Law Firm in Little Rock the 2017 Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year. Kitchens received the award at the association’s 54th Annual Convention in Eureka Springs on April 28, 2017. The Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year award is highly esteemed and is presented to an attorney dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals and the civil justice system.

Kitchens attended Little Rock Central High School and graduated from Texas Christian University, and then UALR Bowen School of Law. His trial practice emphasizes commercial litigation, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and personal injury.

Kitchens exhibited exceptional trial work over the past year, and his trial strategies and instincts have delivered justice for his clients time and time again. Kitchens’ caseload encompasses an impressively broad scope of trial work, and he is highly regarded among his peers for the intensive care he takes with his clients.

“Tre Kitchens possesses enviable skill, stamina, and instinct – and that makes him a truly outstanding trial attorney,” said outgoing President Robin Smith. “The breadth of the types of cases he takes and his unyielding drive to exhaust every avenue to justice for his clients reveals his dedication to people who are injured and voiceless. He inspires the trust of people who are at their absolute lowest, and he is very deserving of the Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year award. ”

At the awards ceremony, Kitchens expressed his gratitude to the other trial lawyers in attendance and to his mentors, Brad Hendricks and Judge Chip Welch. Tre and his wife Alicia live in Little Rock and have three beautiful daughters. When he is not in trial, Tre enjoys spending time with his kids and going to the lake.

Founded in 1963, The Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA) is a statewide association of approx. 1,000 attorneys from all 75 counties that was established to protect the people of Arkansas’s constitutional right to a trial by jury. ATLA supports its mission through advocacy, communications, and continuing legal education.
On the web at


Incoming Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association President Honored at ATLA Annual Convention

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LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – The Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association honored incoming President Joey McCutchen of Fort Smith with the 2017 Roxanne Wilson Advocacy Award at an awards ceremony held in Eureka Springs on Friday, April 28, 2017. McCutchen was chosen for the award based on his activism in the advancement and improvement of the legal system and the legal profession, for his defense of those who cannot find justice for themselves, and for his demonstration of dedication to family, the community, and to ATLA.

McCutchen was sworn in as the 2017 – 2018 President immediately after the awards ceremony.

McCutchen is the founder of McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm, where he represents people with catastrophic personal injuries and actively advocates to protect the civil justice system. McCutchen earned a J.D. from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville and a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard University. He was the recipient of the 2013 ATLA Citizen Merit Award, has been published in the ATLA Docket several times, and regularly chairs highly impactful Continuing Legal Education seminars featuring nationally renowned speakers.

“I’m honored to serve as president of ATLA, an organization that has led the fight to protect the rights and liberties of Arkansans for over 50 years,” said McCutchen. “Our kids and our grandkids deserve the same rights that we have treasured. When you know about liberty and think of our children, it’s clear that our responsibility is to fiercely protect their rights.”

McCutchen is actively involved in the Fort Smith community, spearheading several safety initiatives including Project Safety, Take 25, and the Second Annual Distracted Driving Safety Program. Because of his remarkable dedication to improving community safety, McCutchen inspired the “Good Works” column in the ATLA Docket, which highlights ATLA members and their community work.

Joey is a resolute defender of the 7th Amendment and is a passionate safety advocate,” said outgoing ATLA President Robin Smith. “He lives and breathes the US and Arkansas Constitutions and Bill of Rights, and defends them with vigor. His commitment to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and to safety often leads him to the state capitol where his work to educate lawmakers on the importance of protecting the civil justice system has been invaluable to all Arkansans.”

McCutchen’s award ceremony speech emphasized his excitement to serve as president and his continued dedication to protecting the 7th Amendment. Additionally, McCutchen called on award ceremony attendees to continue their efforts to love, serve, and care for their neighbors to build stronger, safer communities. McCutchen dedicated his award to his late wife, Tara, who passed away in March and was a dedicated partner in protecting the 7th Amendment.



Attention Alliance Members:
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
~ Yoda
Do you have too many salmon suits in your closet?  Have an abundance of black in your closet from your days on the dark side? Do your “just in case I lose that 10 pounds of trial weight” pants outnumber the ones you actually wear?  Is that lucky suit collecting dust in the corner because you don’t want to jinx it with the wrong case?  Or do you just have too much stuff?!?!
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it is time to heed Master Yoda’s wise words and bring your gently used business attire (men’s & women’s suits, dress shirts, dresses, etc.) to the ATLA Convention in Eureka Springs.
Alliance members should put donations in the box corresponding with their galaxy:
Northwest: Peace at Home Family Shelter (Fayetteville)
Northeast: Women’s Crisis Center (Jonesboro)
Southern: The Healing Place of Texarkana (Texarkana)
Central: Our House (Little Rock)
Which galaxy will give the most???

See you in 4 days.  Get Ready.

Thursday Speaker Spotlight


Jake Watson. Ken Levinson. Chip Welch. David Sachar. Their careers are storied, their expertise is indispensable – and they’ll be at ATLA Convention next week! There’s still time to register, just visit Read about today’s featured speakers below…

Jake Watson, Huntsville, ALATLA Convention Topic: Secrets to Presenting Your Most Powerful Mitigation Case for Life

Jake Watson represents people accused of crimes in state and federal court. Before becoming a lawyer, Mr. Watson was a newspaper reporter. While covering a capital murder trial he became interested in becoming a criminal defense lawyer. In addition to criminal defense, Mr. Watson represents people in domestic relations matters and personal injury cases. He graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law. In 2006, he attended Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College and later attended Mr. Spence’s Death Penalty College. Mr. Watson has served as faculty at Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College. He attended the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia and the Clarence Darrow Death Penalty College in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Watson has been honored by the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association for his work on capital cases.

Ken Levinson, Chicago, ILATLA Convention Topic: Using Focus Groups to Maximize Your Cases

Kenneth H. Levinson is the founding partner of Levinson and Stefani, a Chicago firm concentrating in representing families in wrongful death and serious injury matters. Ken co-authored the current edition of Litigating Major Automobile Injury and Death Cases, published by AAJ Press/Thomson-Reuters. He is a graduate of the prestigious Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College. Ken was named by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top attorneys in Illinois for 2010 – 2016 and made the list of the Super Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers in Illinois in 2012 and 2016. He is currently the Chair of the Education Committee for AAJ’s Interstate Trucking Litigation Group, and the Chair-Elect of AAJ’s Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway and Premises Liability Section. Ken currently serves on the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association Board of Managers and is Illinois’ State Delegate to AAJ. Ken is a Co-Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Solo/Small Firm Committee. He is also an invited speaker and faculty member at various trial lawyer programs throughout the country.

David Sachar, Little Rock, ARATLA Convention Topic: Good Lessons from Bad Judges

David J. Sachar has been the Executive Director of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission since 2013. He was the Deputy Executive Director of the agency from 2007 to 2012. During the past ten years he has been responsible for supervising the investigation of judicial misconduct, investigative panel hearings and public judicial discipline hearings in Arkansas. Sachar graduated from Rose Bud High School in White County. He received his undergraduate degree in Social Science from Harding University in 1991 and his JD from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1994. Mr. Sachar is licensed to practice law in Arkansas and Tennessee.  He is a member of the Arkansas Bar Association, is the president of the national board of directors of the Association of Judicial Discipline Counsel and is on the Advisory Committee for the Center for Judicial Ethics for the National Center for State Courts. In his spare time, David plays on a really good regional slow pitch softball team as a mediocre middle infielder.

Chip Welch, North Little Rock, ARATLA Convention Topic: Good Lessons from Bad Judges

Morgan “Chip” Welch was elected Circuid Judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit in Little Rock in 2012. His Circuit includes Pulaski and Perry Counties. Judge Welch serves on the Supreme Court Committee on Model Jury Instructions (Civil) and is a member of the state Judicial Council. He is a Past President of Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association (1991) and was a board member of AAJ for 16 years. Judge Welch served in the House of Delegates of the Arkansas Bar Association (1994 – 1996). He received the Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year Award from ATLA in 1990; the Roxanne Wilson Advocacy Award in 1997, and was listed in “Best Lawyers n Arkansas,” Arkansas Times, 1998 – 2007 as well as being listed in “Mid-South Super Lawyers” 2007 – 2011 and “Best Lawyers in America” 2005 – 2011. He is a member of ABOTA and serves as the current president of the William Overton Inn of Court.

Chip is married to Cheryl Williams Welch. The Welches live in North Little Rock and have two grown children, three grandchildren, and “Jake”, the dog who administers the home.

Incredible Convention Speakers


Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with the Advocate blog over the past few weeks and have read about the incredible speakers we have lined up to help us all become better lawyers. We’ll continue to highlight the women and men who are coming to share their experiences and their knowledge with us over the next couple of days as we get ready for the big event: ATLA Convention 2017! The force is strong with today’s featured speakers. Steve Gursten will take us to new frontiers in damages; Todd Tracy will bring vehicle safety systems into focus; and James Crawford will give us an inside look at a snitch scandal! Register today at  Learn more about our speakers below:

Steve Gursten, Farmington Hills, MI – ATLA Convention Topic: New Frontiers in Damages: How to Increase Case Value and Show the Impact of Hidden Injuries on Your Client’s Life

Steve Gursten focuses his practice on serious auto and truck injury and wrongful death cases. Steve frequently lectures at legal seminars throughout the country on trucking litigation, maximizing damages, trial advocacy, and traumatic brain injury cases. He also speaks on maximizing settlements on auto negligence and truck cases.  He is past President of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group, Co-Founder of the national Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable and has been named a “Leader in the Law” and “Lawyer of the Year” by Michigan’s largest legal newspaper for his verdicts and settlements and advocacy work in preventing wrecks.

To learn more about Gursten, please visit

Todd Tracy, Dallas, TX – ATLA Convention Topic: When Your Case is at a Recovery Dead End, Focus on the Vehicle’s Safety Systems, Not the Uninsured Driver

Todd Tracy is an attorney from Dallas, Texas who specializes in handling vehicle crashworthiness cases around the country. Todd has tried 136 crashworthiness cases and handled over 2,700 cases in 42 states including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Todd has testified before Congress on issues related to roof strength, more realistic real world crash testing, and making vehicles more compatible and less aggressive and on ways to provide equal protection to children and small adults. He has lectured in 35 states as well as in Canada. Todd routinely conducts rollover, drop, and pendulum testing as well as testing on rear structural inadequacies.

James Crawford, Orange, CA – ATLA Convention Topic: In RE Henry Rodriguez: An Inside Look into the Orange County Snitch Scandal

James Michael Crawford graduated from the University of Irvine in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Ecology. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor in 1993 at Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, CA, where he was in the top 20th percentile of his class. While studying law, Mr. Crawford received the American Jurisprudence Awards for Civil Procedure II and Corporations and was also an active member of Delta Theta Phi law fraternity. Mr. Crawford has been practicing Criminal Law since 1994 at both the Trial and Appellate levels.  In 2006 Mr. Crawford graduated from the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College.

Thursday Convention Speaker Spotlight!


ATLA’s Annual Convention is April 27 – April 29!

We are extremely proud of our convention speakers, and with good reason. ATLA’s 2017 Annual Convention boasts the best of the best speakers like Maren Chaloupka, a master at trying unusual cases with challenging facts; Kristen Miller, who tackles a wide range of cases from medical malpractice to vaccine litigation; and Katie Hubbard, who specializes in representing women injured by the use of talcum powder products. Their trial skills and wisdom are second to none – come listen and learn! To register and to view the entire agenda click here or visit

Learn more about these speakers below!

Maren Chaloupka, Scottsbluff, NE – ATLA CONVENTION TOPIC – “Innocent” Is Not Enough: Overcoming Barriers to Justice for the Wrongfully Convicted

Maren Chaloupka represents people seriously damaged, and who have lost loved ones, as the result of civil rights violations and governmental negligence, defective products, sexual assault, dangerous premises, intentional acts and professional negligence.  Maren also defends persons charged with serious felonies.  She handles civil and criminal appeals.

She began working for her beloved father, trial lawyer Robert Chaloupka, when she was 11 years old, and joined her father’s practice full-time in 1998. Maren was blessed by his mentoring, inspiration and friendship until his death in 2009. Bob’s practice and his life set the standard for courage, for not giving up, and for providing dignity and hope to persons broken by grief and despair.

Maren grew up in Scottsbluff and has lived there for most of her life, although her law practice now covers the State of Nebraska and beyond. After earning her law degree in 1995, she served as a judicial clerk to Chief Justice C. Thomas White of the Nebraska Supreme Court. She began practicing law after her clerkship ended in 1996. Since that time, Maren has tried sixty-three civil rights, criminal and personal injury cases to verdict since 1997 and has briefed and argued seventy-five appeals in the state and federal appellate courts.  She holds an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been recognized as a SuperLawyer for the Midwest region of the United States.

Maren’s stock in trade has become unusual cases with challenging facts, to include novel and untested legal theories.  She enjoys civil rights cases, representing “the least of our brothers” –  persons wrongfully accused and convicted of crimes they did not commit, persons abused in custody, and families of mentally ill persons who die in jails, prisons and psychiatric facilities. Her criminal practice primarily focuses on the representation of persons falsely accused of sexual assault. In her civil practice, she represents people harmed by the thoughtless or intentional acts of others. This includes persons harmed by governmental torts who face sovereign immunity defenses. She has testified many times before the Nebraska legislature on issues of interest to her clients. 

In 1999, Maren attended Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, a 31-day intensive trial school near Dubois, Wyoming. She was invited to join the faculty of Trial Lawyers College in 2000 and has taught at Trial Lawyers College and its related seminars since then.  In 2014, she joined the Board of Directors of Trial Lawyers College. She presents an advanced trial skills training program for Trial Lawyers College every August near Dubois, Wyoming, and serves as the editor-in-chief of Trial Lawyers College’s quarterly journal, The Warrior.

With the support of her firm, she presents The Bob Chaloupka Kick Ass Trial Skills Seminar every November in Scottsbluff, in her father’s honor. Maren is also a volunteer pianist for Theatre West Summer Repertory, and she plays the piano for the Chuckwagon Mission Church. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Riverside Discovery Center.  In her “spare” time, Maren administers amateur behavioral therapy for her oversize rescue dog and her murderous assassin of a cat.  

Kristen B. Miller, Glen Rock, NJ – ATLA CONVENTION TOPIC – Half the Sky: Why Women Matter

Kristen B. Miller is a trial attorney at Britcher Leone, LLC.  Ms. Miller focuses her legal practice in the areas of medical malpractice, products liability, nursing home, personal injury, wrongful death, and vaccine litigation. She is a member of the American Association for Justice, the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), the New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ) where she serves on the Board of Governors and is a co-chair of the Women’s Lawyer Trial Caucus, the Women Lawyers in Bergen where she co-chairs the Diversity Committee, and the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association. Ms. Miller has been named to the National Trial Lawyers’ Top 40 under 40 and presently serves on its Executive Committee. Since 2013, Ms. Miller has been consistently selected as a New Jersey Super Lawyer Rising Star.

Katie Hubbard, Edwardsville, IL – ATLA CONVENTION TOPIC – Half the Sky: Why Women Matter

Katie Hubbard is a trial attorney pursuing justice for her clients and all people. She specializes in personal injury litigation, including car or trucking accidents, pharmaceutical drugs and medical device litigation, and workers’ compensation. Ms. Hubbard is currently representing women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer following the use of talcum powder products. She also represents individuals in other mass torts including Transvaginal Mesh, Stryker and Wright Hip Replacements, Proton Pump Inhibitors, and IVC Filters. Katie is an Attorney at Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C., with offices in Madison County, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri.

Katie was recently re-elected to the American Association for Justice Board of Governors for the 2015-2017 term. In 2013, she was selected to the inaugural class of the American Association for Justice Leadership Academy. She is also a former representative to the Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association Board of Managers.

She is currently on the Board for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and is the past Chair of the Tri-Cities Area Auxiliary Council. Katie travels to St. Marc, Haiti once a year (or more) as part of a mission to partner with Haitians in providing access to healthcare, economic development, and education through grass roots efforts in that community. She is also the President of Mission 1:11, a non-profit that organizes these efforts.