Federal Judge Brian Miller ruled today that former circuit judge Mike Maggio of Conway need not report to prison next month as scheduled while his appeal of a bribery conviction is pending.
Maggio had asked for the delay. The government opposed that request yesterday. It said he’d knowingly waived his rights when pleading guilty, even though he tried unsuccessfully to withdraw a guilty plea to accepting a bribe in form of campaign contributions to reduce a jury verdict against a nursing home in a negligence case by $4.2 million.
The judge said he was satisfied Maggio wasn’t likely to flee or present a danger and, vital in this case, that Maggio presents a substantial question on appeal that could result in a reversal if the appeals court decides in his favor on the point of law.
The judge said he believed the statute under which Maggio was convicted applies to this case. But he said there’s no case law applying the statute to a judge who took a bribe under circumstances similar to this case. Maggio argues the court took his plea without a basis to show a “quid pro quo arrangement” to render a verdict in return for campaign contribution. The government said it wasn’t a close question.
But, said the judge, “… if the Eighth Circuit rules in Maggio’s favor, and holds that the statute does not apply to state judges acting similarly to Maggio, a reversal is almost certain to occur. Accordingly, Maggio is permitted to remain out on bail pending appeal and his release is subject to the same conditions set forth in the January 9, 2015, order [Doc. No. 6] setting his conditions of release.”