The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has recommended that Circuit Judge Robin Carroll of El Dorado be suspended without pay for 60 days for multiple instances of ethical misconduct.
He has agreed to the recommended sanction, which is up to the Arkansas Supreme Court, rather than contest it.
The 18-page report from David Sachar, director of the commission, includes a finding of bias in handling cases involving a deputy sheriff that he told the sheriff should be fired. He announced in court he’d dismiss cases involving the deputy.
Another finding concerns Carroll’s attempt to exert improper influence over Game and Fish Commission cases. He tried to get cases dismissed that were filed against people he knew in other courts.
He also was faulted for lack of “competence and diligence” for unclear docket entries. He also canceled court without proper notice, creating hardships for attorneys and defendants, sometimes brought by sheriffs from other counties.
The complaint lists a number of rule violations, with a particular discussion of his participation in cases from which he should have recused and abuse of office in attempting to influence the Game and Fish cases.
The report concludes Carroll had demonstrated a pattern of poor conduct and didn’t appear to acknowledge it until several months into the investigation. It said Carroll, with advice from his attorney, appears to have improved his conduct, including by recusing from the deputy’s cases.
Carroll was a private attorney for 10 years, a prosecuting attorney for six and \ a judge for nearly 10 years. The discipline agency said, by way of mitigation of penalties, that Carroll had acknowledged errors and that he also had faced health issues and family deaths in the last year. He has given up a criminal docket to avoid cases involving the deputy and taken on more civil cases. He has agreed to remedial measures, the complaint says.
The recommendation was for 90 days suspension, but with 30 days in abeyance if conditions are met. The punishment is worse than a censure but less than removal from office.
The judge is restricted in what he may say about the case, he will be subject to attendance checks and he must attend classes on ethics and court management.
The judge’s circuit covers Calhoun, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita and Union counties. He was re-elected to a six-year term in 2020.