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Gary "Bud" Ray Roberts, the new head of the ABC

On February 19, 2015, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson announced that he had appointed a Benton attorney, Bud Roberts, to be the new director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division in the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Roberts is one of the founding partners of the Little Rock law firm where the governor’s  son,  W. Asa Hutchinson III,  is “of counsel” ¹.

Gary ”Bud” Ray Roberts, founded the Roberts Law Firm, P.A, with his brother Michael “Mike” L. Roberts back in 1990. According to the firm’s web page:

“Roberts Law Firm was founded in 1990 on the principle that business clients deserve powerful,   sophisticated representation that augments rather than depletes their bottom line. That standard
guides the firm every day — with every client, from domestic corporate clients to those in EasterN Europe, the Middle East and the Far East”.

However, something happened in 2009 and Bud left the firm. What led to his abrupt departure?
We cannot say for certain as little information is available, but research revealed that around the time of his separation from the firm, a former client made a less than stellar review of his legal representation:
“When I hired Mr. Roberts, I paid him in full. Mistake!!!! I have never experienced such an
unprofessional demeanor. He WILL not return phone calls or answer emails. I hired him in
February and in April when I wanted to know what was going on with my case, I had to call the
opposing attorney for info. By the way the opposing attorney had not spoken or received any
correspondence from him since the day I hired him. Still till this day, he refuses to call me
back. In fact if you call his phone, 9 times out of 10, you can’t even leave a message due to
the fact his voice mail is full. He did call me over a month ago to say he was sorry he didn’t
get back to me, but he been on a 4 week vacation. He did not know what was going on with
my case, but said he would call me the next day with information. That was over a month ago.
He still has not called me back”. 
Nightmare Experience posted by Dena, an Identity Theft client on

Was he really on an extended vacation at some exotic location he could not bear to leave, or was he in rehab?

The average length of a vacation in the United States is just four days (15.7 is the number of vacation days American full-timers get after 25 years on the job), while the average length of stay in a drug detox program is 90 days. You do the math.

No record was found of any disciplinary action taken by the Arkansas Office of the Committee on Professional Conduct, but that does not mean complaints were not filed.  The Arkansas Office of Professional Conduct is prohibited from releasing information regarding complaints except for Disciplinary Decisions.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement on Bud Roberts:
“I am pleased to announce Bud Roberts as the new Director of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Bud’s breadth   of experience in Arkansas law, in addition to the knowledge he possesses of the issues related to ABC, makes him the right choice as new director.”

Saline County was a dry county with Dizzy’s Grill & Bistro becoming the first restaurant in Benton to obtain a private club license in 2007. In 2008, Applebee’s became the second restaurant in Benton to be approved for alcohol sales despite being in dry Saline County.  Other establishments in Benton that served alcohol at that time included a VFW club, a Moose Lodge and a country club. Since 2008 only 29 private club permits were issued for Saline County. In November 2014 residents voted it wet.  Then in  January 2015, 46 new permits were issued for Saline County stores, restaurants and hotels to sell alcohol. Such sales had not been permitted in Saline County since 1936.

So unless Bud represented one or more of these 29 establishments before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for some violation (doubtful), his knowledge of issues related to them would be slim to none.

A review of cases where Roberts is listed as attorney of record here in Arkansas for the past several years indicates that Bud’s experience in Arkansas law has primarily been in handling divorce cases.

Bud’s knowledge with issues related to ABC seem to be limited to the servers at Twin Peaks Bar & Grill in Little Rock 2 and his hobby of collecting bottle openers 3.

Bud's favorite server at Twin Peaks as listed on his Facebook page

Prior to or sometime after leaving the firm founded with his brother, Bud appears to have relocated back to his hometown of Dumas, or to Kitsap County, Washington for a while where divorce cases appear to have been his bread and butter 4.  Bud appears to have gotten a divorce himself up there in Kitsap County, WA.  Maybe it was because he enjoyed playing Frisbee golf with the West Sound Disc Golf Association more than he should have.

For some reason (divorce?) Bud returned to Arkansas and opened a solo law practice in Benton. From all indicators he lived and worked out a small wood fame home at 112 S. 2nd Street.

It also appears that Bud supplemented his income from his limited law practice with a side business involving yo-yo’s and brass knuckles 5.  As an attorney with a “breadth of experience”, Bud should be aware that his possession of metal knuckles is illegal pursuant to Arkansas Code § 5-73-104.

One wonders how and why Governor Hutchinson really selected Bud for this position.  Could it have been a simple return of a favor for a struggling attorney whose brother’s law firm is where his son hangs out? According to published campaign contribution information for the 2014 Arkansas Governor’s race, Bud Roberts gave Hutchinson $4,000.00 and his brother Mike and his wife, Deborah, gave $8,000.00. Not a bad investment for a job that pays around $100,000.00 a year.


¹ According to an American Bar Association Formal Opinion 90-357, the term “of counsel” is to describe a “close, personal, continuous, and regular relationship” between the firm and counsel lawyer. Putting the name of the attorney “of counsel” on a law firm’s stationary gives the office prestige of the lawyer’s name and reputation, without requiring his/her full-time presence.






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