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Plaintiffs' lawyer files eithics complaint against Maggio

Posted: March 21, 2014 - 6:06pm

A Little Rock attorney has filed an ethics complaint against Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio on behalf of his clients who were plaintiffs in a case Maggio presided over last year.

The clients, Rosey Perkins and Rhonda Coppak, represented the estate of Martha Bull, who died at Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in what was ruled to be a case of negligence.

Maggio greatly reduced the jury’s $5.2 million award to the plaintiffs to $1 million, saving the case’s defendant $4.2 million.

The defendant in the case was a corporation owned by nursing home operator Michael Morton, of Fort Smith.

Morton has stated financial interest in about 50 corporations or nursing homes in the south.

An anonymous source provided the Log Cabin Democrat with information that, followed up on, revealed suspicious timing in the formation of several political action committees that would eventually fund Maggio’s since-dropped campaign for Court of Appeals.

The source of the six committees’ funding linked back to Morton and his entities, and the groups were formed with an initial and sole donation on July 8, the day Maggio heard the defense’s motion to reduce the defendant’s payout.

A seventh committee, with funds linked to Morton, also gave to Maggio, but has since given to other candidates.

Maggio ruled in favor of the defense July 11.

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has since confirmed an investigation has been opened into Maggio’s campaign financing.

Plaintiffs Perkins and Coppak said previously they filed a complaint with the agency after timing of the formation of the PACs paired with the funding source and eventual contribution to Maggio’s campaign came to light.

Maggio’s financial reports filed with the Secretary of State also show he has received an excess of campaign contributions from two of the PACS funded by Morton.

Maggio isn’t the only judicial candidate whose campaign has been funded with money from nursing homes, and the industry has made large contributions to local judicial candidates and to state-level campaigns.

A subsequent look at other candidates revealed nursing home money going to Doralee Chandler, seeking Circuit Court judgeship in this district; deputy prosecutor Troy Braswell, seeking Maggio’s current seat; Circuit Judge David Clark; Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne; Associate Justice Karen Baker of the Supreme Court; and Rhonda Wood, who runs unopposed for the Supreme Court.

The local major contributors from the nursing home industry are Morton; Victoria Healthcare Inc., headed by Joshua and Ken Kilgore; and Reliance Healthcare Management, headed by locals Brandon and Bryan Adams.

In the March 18 complaint obtained Friday from Perkins and Coppak’s attorney, Thomas Buchanan, the counselor states his clients would like Arkansas Ethics Commission to investigate Morton, his businesses, the committees’ officer and Little Rock lawyer Chris Stewart, and “any other individual or group that may be involved with any improper solicitation and/or contribution of judicial campaign funds.

Another officer listed on the PACs in question is Linda Leigh Flanagin, whose listed employment is with LRM Consulting.

The consulting firm’s incorporator was Gilbert Baker, former senator of Conway, but the firm now has listed James McAlister as the incorporator in the Secretary of State filing.

The registered agent is Chris Stewart.

Also listed as officers on the PACS are Don Thomas, listed as retired; Ancil Lea, self-employed; Sarah Drye, employed at Stewart’s law firm; and Cheryl Loetscher, employed by “The Thomas Group.”

Maggio is also under investigation by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission for postings he made on an LSU fan forum website that alluded to celebrity actress Charlize Theron’s sealed adoption proceedings in Faulkner County and questionable comments about sex, sexual orientation and race.

(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 to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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Raving Bear
Raving Bear 03/21/14 - 07:43 pm
I hope everyone caught that

I hope everyone caught that one contender for Maggio's seat is taking the same dirty money while his opponent is not corrupted. I suggest voting against Braswell unless you want Maggio v2.0. Then again anyone who follows cases already knows Braswell is milking several high profile cases to further his political ambitions.

Hey Mr. Braswell, why are you gumming up the wheels of justice. I wonder if the McGary family realizes the reason Barry Strickland hasn't gone before a judge and jury is because of you dragging your feet on getting the mental evaluation done. Check it out in the reports here on The Cabin on Court Connect. You figure the family of a dead cop would deserve to know the fate of the man who killed their family member before the you find out whether or not you get a cushy judge job.

libertas 03/21/14 - 07:58 pm
The fish rots from the head down......

Ask lawyers from other counties why they won't practice in Faulkner County, they answer with one word. This coming judicial election is nothing more than the shuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic. The same people run for judge funded by the same ones that enjoy their backdoor deals that make a mockery out of the judicial process. No one cares until they find themselves on the wrong side of a lawyer that gets special treatment, or the judge that just flat out ignores their civil and due process rights. Maggio is the administrative judge, in other words, the one in charge. He got there because no one would take a stand and file a complaint with the judiciary. Lawyers in this county didn't want to hurt their practice so they went along to get along, and they know who they are.

Igor Rabinowitz
Igor Rabinowitz 03/22/14 - 04:24 pm
Oh calm down

The lawyers and courts system 'round here are, on the whole, willing participants in blind justice and constitutional democracy.

One bad apple don't make a wild bear take a spoil of the whole bunch, girl.

What's really striking is this (and part of it being in an aside in this article).

Dude drunk posts on some message board; makes a rather grave error at a couple of levels: One, posting confidential information and two, making it fairly easy to prove the clownhat in question is this judge.

So he gets busted out, bad thing, right?

But apparently this chink in the armor was enough for someone to tip off the paper and/or a reporter about this skeevy PAC money thing. So now the poster/judge went from being clownhat to being corrupt judge (pending investigation findings blah blah).

And this was some schlub lawyer, making at best middle-class wages, who got himself into a judgeship where he was suddenly rolling phat bank with various conserva-cans propping him up, assuring a comfortable life in serving the party (activist judge LOL) and I'm kinda' doubting his calls to them are being returned.

Really, the only reason he would be hanging around still is because of the afore-mentioned phat bank. Otherwise he'd of quit and slipped out of town. (In fact I'm wondering if the same party bosses aren't encouraging him to to that in order to take the heat off their game.) But the money man, the money's just too good. Got to hang on a little longer.

And now another thing puts his name back in the news. Oh man, just one more check and I can pay down the .....

You got to wonder what's coming next. This is rapidly going from being a Faulkner County thing to a state, if not national, thing. Inquiring minds want to know.

All traced back to some crazy posting on a obscure message board. Wow, just that.

(Yeah yeah, but I've got nothing to lose -- I'm already a broke-a**.)


libertas 03/22/14 - 05:06 pm

Making this a Republican v Democrat thing is a huge mistake and offers cover for all those that have been part of this dysfunctional system. If you follow the money you'll find there is no party loyalty in the Twentieth Judicial District, it's all for one and one for all. There needs to be a very thorough investigation into a few cases here where protecting the careers of incompetents has taken precedence over doing the right thing.

Elmer Fudd
Elmer Fudd 03/22/14 - 05:42 pm
Crazy post indeed

Most thinking people know if you put anything out on the web it can come back to bite you in the [filtered word]

cjsmom92 03/22/14 - 05:41 pm

I am just wondering how many noticed ethics is misspelled in the headline?

reader 03/23/14 - 08:45 am

missed it!

Zweck 03/22/14 - 06:30 pm

Lol yeah I've been checking every hr or so, and this same paper that said they had to have standards an a blogger doesn't.

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