The Arkansas Supreme Court today accepted an agreed settlement of a disciplinary proceeding against Circuit Judge Mike Maggio except in one respect: It ordered his immediate removal from the bench.
He was relieved of duties March 24 amid multiple investigations of both out-of-court commentary on a website and questions about political campaign contributions to his now-aborted race for Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court noted he’d continued to be paid while others did his work.
Maggio’s acceptance of discipline, including an agreement never to be a judge again, was part of a settlement that also allowed him to continue to be paid through the end of his term Dec. 31.
The Supreme Court wouldn’t accept that. saying “we deen any further suspension with pay to be inappropriate. Instead, this court concludes that immediate removal is the just and proper sanction for the judge’s conduct.”
The court ordered immediate issuance of the mandate, which makes it effective today. The order also prohibits him from holding further judicial office.
When Maggio settled with the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, he admitted ethics violations and agreed never to seek a judgeship again. He’s been a judge since 2001. Judges accrue benefits worth 3.2 percent of pay for each year of service in retirement benefits, but judges who’ve served less than 20 years must wait until they are 65 to collect the benefits. Maggio is 53.
This comment from Maggio’s attorney, Lauren White Hamilton;
Obviously, today’s action by the Arkansas Supreme Court is disappointing. We thought the negotiated settlement agreement was fair and just. The parties worked very hard in reviewing the evidence and based on the evidence, the parties entered into an agreement that the Commission approved unanimously. We thank the JDDC and its members for its effort in this matter and thank the people of the 20th Judicial District for their support.
This comment from David Sachar, executive director of the Judicial Discipline Commission:
Today, the Supreme Court chose to exercise its exclusive power to immediately remove Judge Maggio. We respect that authority. We are glad they agreed with our findings and conclusions and that the final result was that he is banned from ever being a judge again.
The JDDC did everything in their power to get the most severe penalty it could in a timely manner. We had no way (while abiding by the Rules of Procedure that the Supreme Court created) to get the judge to trial by the end of the year. As such, his paycheck situation was not something we could change. The case would never have been in front of the Supreme Court in 2014 without the agreed sanction being approved by the JDDC in August.
ALSO TODAY FROM THE SUPREME COURT:
* EXPEDITED: The Supreme Court granted expedited scheduling and set oral arguments Oct. 9 on the lawsuit brought by opponents of statewide vote on legalizing alcohol sales in every county. The suit says it should not be certified for the ballot for missing a filing deadline and for inadequate description of its impact.
* DWI APPEAL DENIED: The Supreme Court declined to review a Washington County Circuit Court conviction of Herb Rule, a Little Rock lawyer, on a DWI charge. The Court of Appeals earlier upheld the conviction. The charge was filed when Rule was running for 2nd District Congress in 2012.