Friday morning I got up early and caught a ride to Acxiom Corporation Headquarters, which is where the Rule of Law Conference was being held. I got my wires crossed with Mayor Coody, my original ride, but as it turned out Viet Tran and Jeremy Ament pulled up and saved the day. Viet is a second year law student and Jeremy a third year and they had stopped at the Capital Hotel to look for directions to the conference, so I put my luggage in their car, hopped in, and rode over with them.

After the welcome by Jerry Jones, the Business and Development Legal Advisor and Assistant Secretary of Acxiom, Justice Annabelle Clinton Imber gave the opening remarks about the rule of law and its impact. Rick Ramsay then introduced the first panel “The Rule of Law and Its Global Impact.” This panel was a joint one with participants from the Ukraine.

The Arkansas moderator was Melissa Waters, an Assistant Professor of Law/Ethan Allen Faculty Fellow from the Washington and Lee University School of Law. The Arkansas panelists were Donald P. Judges, E.J. Ball Professor of Law/Adjunct Professor of Psychology, University of Arkansas School of Law; Sarah Howard Jenkins, Charles Baum Distinguished Professor of Law, UALR William H. Bowen School of Law; Richard Bell, Secretary, Arkansas Agriculture Department; Honorable John R. Lineberger, Judge (Ret.), Arkansas 4th Judicial District; and Bill Teeter, Senior Director – International Business Development, Tyson International Group.

The Kyiv “Kiev” Moderator was Dr. Valentyna Pidlisnyuk, Professor and Director, Sustainable Development & Ecological Education Center. The Kyiv “Kiev” Panelists were Mykhaylo Borysyuk, Head of the Secretariat, Committee on Environmental Policy; Andriy Dakhovskyi, chief executive officer of Ukrainian Records; Olesia Hulchiy, vice-rector of the National Medical Bohomolets University; Ihor Osyka, project manager for ABA-CEELI Law Enforcement Reform; Ruslan Marutovsky, chief advisor for the Committee on Environmental Policy; Tetyana Stefanovska, associate professor at National Agricultural University; Serhiy Vykhryst, deputy dean of the Law Department, KROK University of Economics and Law; and Anatoliy Yaselskyi, judge for the Svyatoshyn District Court, Kyiv.

The most exciting component of this panel was the fact that there was a direct video conferencing link to the U.S. Embassy in Kiev which was in large part made possible by relationships established by Professors Chris Kelley and Don Judges. So far, ours is the only Rule of Law Conference to actually include a dialogue with lawyers and professionals from another country. The Rule of Law Conference was not just a dialogue between lawyers, but an interdisciplinary discussion that added depth and breadth to the conversation. The School of Law is very proud of our two colleagues who enabled this interactive, international panel.

Later that day, I moderated a panel on “Why the Rule of Law Matters in Our State.” (there are pictures of all of this; in fact there are pictures of everything from Tuesday night on) The panelists were Honorable Paul E. Danielson, Associate Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court; Dr. Ellen “Nan” Plummer, Executive Director of the Arkansas Arts Center; Grif Stockley, author/lawyer from the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies; Mike Bennett, Vice-president and General Counsel-Class Action Division, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; Mayor Dan Coody of Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Kevin W. Ryan, Executive Associate Director for the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and Assistant Professor in the UAMS College of Public Health. Their comments were quite thoughtful.

After remarks by Tom Wells, president-elect of the American Bar Association, the attendees had lunch broke up into small groups. Each group looked at Arkansas’ future in the rule of law. After lunch Governor Mike Beebe, our alum, gave a keynote speech which adjourned the conference. The conversations at the conference were engaged and serious. It was wonderful to be there and to participate, and I thank the conference organizers Gwen Rucker, Courtney Crouch, and Cliff McKinney for all their hard work. They did an excellent job and it was a wonderful conference.

Afterwards, I rode back to Fayetteville with my friend and our mayor, Dan Coody. We had a long conversation about the things that he’s accomplished as mayor, his challenges and how he envisions the future of Fayetteville. I asked whether, knowing what he knows now, he would have chosen to run for mayor, and his reply was “absolutely.” He said it has been an amazing experience. He is grateful for all the opportunities he’s had, the places he’s been, the people he’s met, and grateful that he was able to participate in positive change for Fayetteville. It was a great ride back to Fayetteville, and I thank him for that. I know he was probably as exhausted as I was, yet he did all that driving, and I appreciate it.

One quick note: if you saw the previous posting about the day I spent with Deb and him at their cabin, you know that at the end of that trip looked at the Square. After we got back to Fayetteville, from the Rule of Law Conference, he and I drove by the Square again and looked at the work that had been done. The work had really progressed since our earlier visit, which was a good thing since the next day was the opening of the Farmer’s Market. You could really see a difference. It was quite beautiful. There’s still a little bit of work to be done, but I think as folks arrive for the Farmer’s Market they are going to be pleased with the progress of the repair and replacement of the square. After he dropped me off at home, Hope Jackson—my research assistant—came to get me. Because since I’d flown out of XNA I had to get back there to pick up my car for the evening and for the next day’s activities. Thank you very much Hope for coming out on a Friday night to take me to get my car.