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Supreme Court strips Maggio's docket, will assign special judges

Posted: March 24, 2014 - 3:32pm

The Arkansas Supreme Court stripped Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of his court docket in an unprecedented order Monday.

The order, signed by Chief Justice Jim Hannah, says the Supreme Court has been advised operations in Maggio’s court, 20th Judicial District, Division 2, have been disrupted and that administration of justice has been “severely compromised,” due in part to recusal issues.

Public calls for Maggio’s resignation have been made this month after he admitted to making questionable comments on an LSU fan forum website about women, race and sexual orientation. The comments under pseudonym “geauxjudge” also alluded to celebrity actress Charlize Theron’s closed adoption proceedings in Faulkner County.

Taking away Maggio’s case load does not remove him from the bench, said Stephanie Harris, Supreme Court communications counsel.

But any cases in his court will be heard by another judge, as well as any case that is filed in the division while the order is in effect.

Maggio, whose salary is $138,981, is not working this week, according to the Faulkner County Clerk’s office.

Harris said the order is effective immediately, and a special judge or judges from outside the district will be assigned Maggio’s cases, or his case load will be absorbed by other divisions.

Harris said Justice Hannah did not disclose recusals in Maggio’s cases, but said it was “such a disruption that it’s interfering with the administration of justice.”

She said this is not the first time the Supreme Court has issued an order to assign a special judge or judges, but it has usually been due to a judge’s illness or other situation that has caused an extended absence from the bench.

“I would call this unprecedented,” she said.

Maggio has had several busy days in court since he admitted to making the website postings that prompted an investigation by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.

He’s had a couple of courtroom days since the JDDC confirmed a second investigation into the judge that focuses on “general allegations concerning campaign contributions” to Maggio’s since-dropped race for the Court of Appeals.

Maggio left the Court of Appeals race after admitting to the website postings, and shortly thereafter the Log Cabin Democrat and other media brought it to light that Maggio greatly reduced a jury’s award to the family of a nursing home negligence victim from $5.2 million to $1 million, ruling in favor of a defendant who would later contribute to his Court of Appeals campaign.

Maggio’s campaign finance reports include contributions from political action committees that were formed with contributions from the corporations of the defendant, Michael Morton, the day Maggio heard the defense motion to reduce the defendant’s payout, bringing the ruling into question.

Maggio’s records also show an excess of contributions from Morton’s corporations.

Morton, of Fort Smith, claims financial interest in about 50 nursing home related corporations in the south.

Third Division Judge Charles Clawson said Monday he is acting as the District’s administrative judge, formerly Maggio’s role, and he and the other division judges except for Maggio will meet Tuesday morning to discuss how to handle the Supreme Court’s order while minimizing adverse effects on litigants, attorneys, victims and other parties involved in Maggio’s current cases.

Clawson said Maggio’s is primarily a criminal docket.

“At this point until I talk to them I can’t give specifics…We are in position to discuss it and will do something soon to minimize the effect on the courts,” Clawson said.

Maggio was set to preside over at least one other open status case involving Salem Place Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Inc., another of Morton’s properties.

The case’s plaintiffs include a resident whose family alleges he suffered injury due to negligence by the facility and its administrators.

The case was filed in August of last year but has been continued.

It was in July of 2013 that Maggio ruled in favor of Morton’s defense in the case of Martha Bull, who died at Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on towww.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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libertas
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libertas 03/24/14 - 05:29 pm
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5
Not the entire story Log Cabin

Why is the Log Cabin so timid about reporting this story or any story regarding this court? Chief Justice Hannah's order today is an extraordinary ruling and he went on to say that he was taking this action because of "recusal issues," in other words, lawyers and their clients did not want to appear before Judge Maggio. Serious inequities from Judge Maggio's court have been brought to the Log Cabin before that found deaf ears, how will it look when outside media brings them out? What happened to investigative journalism instead of relying on what appears in a blog? Thank God for Matt Campbell I guess.

Raving Bear
632
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Raving Bear 03/24/14 - 07:07 pm
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Next stop, handcuffs and his

Next stop, handcuffs and his picture on the Cabin's, "booked"...

Igor Rabinowitz
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Igor Rabinowitz 03/24/14 - 09:35 pm
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6
I just....

... I can't help but feel bad for the guy. I know, I know, "judges shouldn't...." and all, but man! He went from rolling big to the wheels coming off the wagon in, what <30 days?

Just wow. Poor guy.

fdsjfsdjfsda543543543
2760
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fdsjfsdjfsda543543543 03/25/14 - 12:13 am
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Sorry for this piece of

Sorry for this piece of *^&*!?!?!

Get a grip Igor. This guy is looking worse with every passing day. There's no telling what else we don't know. There are apparently lots of people that didn't get justice in Maggio's courtroom. This guy is a wrecking ball who sells himself to whoever contributes to his campaign war chest.

This guy belongs in a courtroom, but not behind the bench. He needs to be the guy sitting with the defense attorney because he's facing charges of corruption and bribery.

Igor Rabinowitz
8814
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Igor Rabinowitz 03/25/14 - 08:24 am
1
2
I realize...

.... this is teh Internets and built for us to spit on people from a distance, but we're watching a guy get ruined here.

He made terrible decisions, but ruined. I feel bad for him.

I mean, to you and me, what was the loss? Money? Some money we'll never see went from one place to another place under questionable circumstances. Yeah yeah, coin of the realm, and corruption is corruption, but in the end the impact on us is negligible. Just power brokers playing reindeer games.

On him, it's life changing, and not in a good way.

Compassion, for which I will not apologize, and for which I hope we are all able to extend, even to those in the most dire of circumstance.

conwaygerl
5557
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conwaygerl 03/25/14 - 01:42 pm
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Some money? Negligible impact on us?

This is more than one guy doing an ooopsie, this is corruption from big business turning a judge into a puppet.

What if he were to rule on the Pegasus lawsuit or something equivalent and let Exxon off with a small slap on the wrist?

This is a bigger problem than just one judge getting paid to lower a judgment, the issue is not knowing how often it happens.

The LSU forum comments are just showing the true heart of a corrupt person.

Igor Rabinowitz
8814
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Igor Rabinowitz 03/25/14 - 02:23 pm
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1
Torches and pitchforks

"What if?"

Well, what if this was the person entrusted with the nuclear launch codes? Then what if, am I right?

Raving Bear
632
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Raving Bear 03/25/14 - 04:45 pm
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Morton via his comapny killed

Morton via his comapny killed someone and bought his way out of the civil liability and cheated the family out of 4 million dollars. That is just one case. Then we can surmise how many other people he cheated based on his comments on Tiger Droppings. In addtion he seriously damaged the credibility of the courts.

He affected a whole lot of people and needs to be put away.

Igor Rabinowitz
8814
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Igor Rabinowitz 03/25/14 - 04:49 pm
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Nobody's

Nobody's saying the guy isn't (based on what's been exposed) a criminal, and nobody's arguing criminals don't need to be prosecuted.

I just feel bad for the guy. His world is, no doubt, crashing down around him. Criminal or no that's got to be a heavy thing.

conwaygerl
5557
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conwaygerl 03/25/14 - 07:06 pm
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World crashing around him

Maybe...but the elite of this world have a much bigger cushion when they fall....and I think he will be just fine after all this, he knows the law well enough to avoid the worst case scenario here...

The real "world crashing" is for the victims of his corruption....where is the compassion for the victims?

The justice system of equal standing for all has been bought and paid for...and we're acting like this man needs a fundraiser or something...

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