Circuit Judge Charles Yeargan, who serves division two in the 9th Judicial District North of Arkansas, announced Tuesday that he will retire when his term expires next year.
Yeargan is leaving the bench after 24 years in office.
"I decided to announce my retirement now, well in advance of the 2020 election, so my intentions would be clear," Yeargan said in a widely distributed letter. "After 23 years on the bench, it's time for a change. I'm proud of the time I've spent as judge, and I'm proud of the significant strides we've made in improving courtroom operations to keep up with changes in technology and the law.
"I always hoped I would be able to leave the courtroom in just a little bit better shape than I found it, and I hope my successor will do the same."
Yeargan is a lifelong resident of Pike County. He is a graduate of Glenwood High School and attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration in 1973 and a law degree in 1976.
Yeargan operated a private law practice until he was elected to the bench in 1996. Yeargan has been re-elected four times without opposition and began serving his 20th year Jan. 1, 2015.
He is a member of the Arkansas Judicial Council and serves on the Judicial Retirement Committee, Judicial Education Committee, Trial Court Employees Committee and as chairman of the Judicial Resource Assessment Committee.
Yeargan has presided over the 9th Judicial District drug court since 2003. Prior to being elected circuit court judge, Yeargan served for six years as Pike County municipal judge, 10 years as Pike County deputy prosecuting attorney, nine years on the State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission and 17 years as city attorney for Glenwood.