- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. (AP) - L.T. Simes II, a longtime circuit court judge and co-owner of the first black radio station in Arkansas’ Mississippi Delta region, has died in a Missouri hospital. He was 65.

Brown’s Home for Funerals in Helena-West Helena said Simes died Saturday at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. The judge died from complications from leukemia, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Tuesday.

“L.T. was a born leader,” said his brother Alvin Simes, a Forrest City attorney. “He loved being a judge. That was his life. He made it clear to me that he wanted to make sure that anyone who came before him got a fair trial.”

Simes was first elected in the 1st Judicial District in eastern Arkansas in 1996, and he served until 2009 when he was suspended by the Arkansas Supreme Court for violating judicial rules. He was re-elected in 2010 and remained in that role until his death.

Simes clashed again with the state’s highest court in 2011, when he was reprimanded over allegations of improper sanctions involving litigation between a Helena-West Helena mayor and the City Council.

“I have always respected him, and I have always been proud of the fact that he refused to be pushed around by the forces of orthodoxy and refused to allow adversity to cause him to become either bitter or small-minded,” said Wendell Griffen, a Pulaski County circuit judge who knew Simes for nearly 40 years.

“He remained to the very end a gracious, generous and cordial fellow. In that regard, (he’s) a wonderful example of what I consider the highest and best characteristics of a good judge,” Griffen said

Simes was also the co-owner of Delta Force III Radio Network, which was the first black radio station in Arkansas’ Mississippi Delta region. He taught Bible lessons on air for more than 25 years and recorded three gospel albums.

The Times-Herald newspaper reported that retired circuit court judge Harvey Yates will hear Simes’ cases until a replacement is appointed. Simes’ term expires at the end of 2016.

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