Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the October 10 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then and Now” is a profile of a member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40.
The ultimate goal of a lawyer is to be seen as fair and impartial internationally. They should make decisions based on objective criteria and not bias, partiality or favoring one side over another.
In a recent interview, Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green emphasized the point with humor.
“We have a joke among the judges,” she said. “On an evil day we chase half the people. On good days we drive everyone crazy.
For 13 years, Green presided over Division One of Benton County Circuit Court, working hard to handle civil cases and half of the judicial district’s criminal cases with fairness and respect. She was first elected in 2008 and won again in 2014 and 2020.
“I really enjoy public service,” she said. “In this position, I will work to protect the rights of the accused and victims of crime and to protect the safety of our community. It’s a very rewarding position.”
A native Arkansas native from Searcy (White County), Greene moved to Fayetteville in 1990 and never left the state. In the year She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and business from Hendricks College in 1990, then attended the University of Arkansas School of Law. In 1993, she met her legal profession.
Greene has been a courtroom clerk in Benton County ever since, following the same career path as her father. Leroy Fromm practiced law in Searcy for many years and served as a municipal judge in White County until his retirement in 2000. Tragically, he died five months before Benton County voters elected Greene to the bench.
Prior to becoming a circuit judge, she worked as a Benton County civil attorney and prosecuting attorney for 14 years. She prosecuted cases in juvenile, district and circuit courts and, at one point, was responsible for prosecuting all state crimes in Benton County.
In the year In 2005, the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal recognized Green as a 40 Under 40 honoree. That same year, she served as an associate justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court. That service, Green says, is one of her most impressive accomplishments. Another was the successful prosecution of the Albert Keith Smith murder and kidnapping case in 2005, the longest and most expensive in the county’s history.
In the mid-2000s, Greene said, the prosecuting attorney’s office was running “on all cylinders” and she was pleased with the trial work. Still, she considered running for district judge a natural progression.
The transition from advocating for one side to being an independent lawyer took some getting used to.
“As a prosecuting attorney, I prided myself on knowing the ins and outs of a case and I prided myself on not being surprised by any facts at trial,” she said. “I’m very proud of that. As a circuit judge, I’m the least knowledgeable person in the room. Me and the jury. It was a mental adjustment to have the facts come out when the lawyers and witnesses were in court. But it’s due process.
Greene said Northwest Arkansas is blessed with the “cream of the crop” of prosecutors, defense attorneys and civil litigators.
“This makes my job a lot easier,” she said. She said preparation is critical for any attorney to be successful in court.
“If you’re a trial attorney, learn how to successfully introduce evidence and save the record,” she said.
Green is on the Cancer Challenge Board of Directors and is a past member of several civic organizations. She was also the commissioner (2013-2015) of the statewide nonprofit Arkansas Access to Justice.
As an adjunct professor at John Brown University, she also teaches business law and ethics. Green enjoys spending time traveling with her family. In the year A trip to Washington, DC in 2011 led to an opportunity to meet the late Antonin Scalia in his closet. Scalia From 1986 to She was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court until her death in 2016.
“We got to meet him in the closet, and that was a big highlight,” she said. “Being in that greatness is something I’ll never forget.”