Fox 16 breaks the news that the Arkansas Supreme Court today ended the suspension of Circuit Judge Wade Naramore of Hot Springs, acquitted of a negligent manslaughter charge in the hot car death of his young son in 2015.
But some limits were placed on his future work on the bench.
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Naramore was suspended after the charge was filed, but the suspension continued because the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has had an open review of the case. There have been questions of the fitness of a juvenile judge, as Naramore is, to resume hearing matters pertaining to parents’ treatment of children.
The commission case has lingered longer than has been customary. That has led to speculation that Naramore is involved in a parallel matter that is confidential under the law. The death of the child could have prompted a complaint of child abuse or neglect. A representative of Child Protective Services was subpoenaed but did not testify at Naramore’s trial.
If an investigation of a complaint leads to a finding of neglect and placement of aperson on the child abuse registry, it can have an impact on several fields of employment and restrictions on interactions with children. Such a finding may be appealed to circuit court, in a sealed proceeding. A finding in circuit court may be appealed to the state Court of Appeals. Since the records are sealed, it’s not possible to know the status of any case related to Naramore, if it exists.
In his absence, other judges have been appointed to hear cases in Naramore’s court. This has required state expense in some cases to pay retired judges. Some sitting judges also have handled cases.
The court placed some limits on Naramore’s return to work, an order that responded to a request from his lawyer to end the suspension, imposed when the charge was filed.
As the reason the parties provided the court in the joint petition no longer exists, the court grants the motion with the following stipulations. Judge Naramore’s suspension for administrative functions is lifted. Judge Naramore’s suspension regarding his
ability to hear cases will be lifted upon this couft’s receipt and approval of an administrative plan that redistributes cases within the judicial district such that Judge Naramore will not be assigned dependency-neglect cases. The administrative judge is ordered to submit a new administrative plan to the court within seven days.
The order was filed this afternoon, but not as a part of the regular weekly releae of opinions this morning.
This is the petition Naramore’s attorney filed to lift the suspension. It said he had been acquitted, had sought medical attention and otherwise complied with judicial disciplinary agency recommendations. It acknowledges that the judicial discipline pleading isn’t at and end. But it said:
While the current Order of Suspension states it is in effect until the completion of all pending disciplinary matters, the Order was premised on the joint petition, which described the JDDC’s vote to temporarily suspend him from his judicial duties pending the outcome of any disciplinary determination on the merits because “the pending charges against Naramore adversely affect the judge’s ability to perform his judicial duties.” Because the criminal matter is now resolved, and thus there are currently no pending charges, the cause for suspension is no longer be present.
The petition also said:
After nearly nineteen months, Naramore is fit. able. and ready to retum to work. and permitting him to do so would alleviate the financial burden [on the state] and provide needed experience and continuity to the court’
His lawyer, Patrick Benca, gave this statement to KATV, which reported he was back in his office today.
The Naramore family is thankful to have this issue behind them. It’s been a long road. They are the most decent people that I know and I am thrilled for them.
It was an interesting development. The Supreme Court effectively cut the legs from under a pending commission investigation, which, with an adverse outcome, would go to them for review.