Montgomery has served every two-

year term since then — except for one, when Amendment 55 was passed by voters in 1974 and implemented in 1977. Among the things it did was lay out the legislative power of the quo- rum court. It also stipulated that there should be between nine and 15 justices of the peace on a quorum court. To de- termine the number, the county’s elec- tion commission was instructed to di- vide the county into districts with equal populations of constituents. When it came time to run for re-election, jus- tices of the peace had opponents. “Before they changed things up,

we had about 25 JPs in Hempstead County,” Montgomery said. “Ten when this law changed in the 70s, well it put some of us in the same district. I was running against a good friend of mine, and he beat me. But the next time I ran, I beat him, and I’ve been there ever since.”

Tat translates into 26 two-year

terms. No centralized association maintains

such records, so there’s no way to verify whether Montgomery is the longest serving justice of the peace in Arkansas. However, it’s safe to say he’s one of the longest serving. Montgomery was born and raised alongside two brothers in Hempstead County. Teir father owned a grocery store in Hope. After graduating from Hope High School, Montgomery at- tended what is now Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. He returned home to Hope to farm (first chickens and cows, now hay) and start a car dealership. It was a family friend who first convinced him to run for justice of the peace. “He had been a JP for a long time,”

Montgomery explained. “He encour- aged me to run because they needed some young folks to serve as JP. When I started, I just didn’t quit.” Montgomery was already serving on the quorum court when he and his wife, Karen, married in 1967. Karen Montgomery, who worked as a nurse, said she never had a problem with her husband’s political career.


Top: Montgomery shows a visitor his copy of the Arkan- sas Justice Guide, published in 1965 by the Arkansas Sec- retary of State’s office. It was presented to him by Kelly Bry- ant, a Hope native who served as secretary of state from 1963 until his death in 1975.

Right: Since 1977, Mongtom- ery has recorded the names of each couple he has married on the inside covers of his guide. There are 101 entries, ending in 2014, when Montgomery stopped performing marriages.

“If that’s what he wanted to do, it was fine with me,” she said. Karen Montgomery said she’s at- tended only one quorum court meeting during the couple’s marriage. Back in 2010 she had to drive her husband to and from his monthly meeting. He had broken his hip 10 days earlier, but it didn’t stop him from going to work. “To my knowledge, I’ve never missed a meeting,” Montgomery said. Te Montgomerys have a son and two grandsons. Te elder grandson, Blake Montgomery, practices law in Hope. He said his practice is keeping

him busy for now, but he might con- sider running for justice of the peace one day. “I’ve just recently moved out of his district,” Blake Montgomery joked of his grandfather’s winning streak. “So I might have a chance of winning election.” Montgomery said he’s “not real big

on events” and likes to keep things running on an even keel. When asked about his justice of the peace career, he’s fairly nonchalant about it. “Tere’s really nothing fascinating about it,” he said. “I’ve just been there a long time.”


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