• Comment

Maggio maliciously 'abused hot check process' for personal gain, will never serve as judge again, JDDC concludes

Posted: August 6, 2014 - 2:32pm

Judge Mike Maggio will be formally removed from office at the end of the year, and will never again hold a judicial office in Arkansas.

This was the decision of the state’s Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission today. The state Supreme Court will imposing the sanction.

Maggio’s misogynistic, mean-spirited and wrong-headed comments on a Louisiana State University online fan forum, which have been much publicized, led to his removal. It is revealed in the JDDC’s findings of fact that Maggio also attempted to abuse the hot check process to harass and bully his girlfriend’s ex-husband.

In February, 2013, Maggio went to 20th Judicial District Hot Check Coordinator April Mathis and turned in a $2,500 child support check made out to Maggio’s live-in girlfriend. The check had bounced, and Maggio asked Mathis to initiate hot check proceedings, including an arrest warrant that Maggio wanted issued “immediately.” Maggio also told Mathis that a civil body attachment would serve to keep the man in jail for his inability to pay the hot check and costs related to another civil case.

However, as Maggio should have well known since he was the judge presiding over all the county’s hot check cases including the very one he was meddling in, the “well-established protocol with hot check cases was for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to give notice to the violator and wait [ten days] until any further action is taken,” the JDDC’s report reads. This gives the person who wrote the check an opportunity to settle the debt and avoid resorting to the machinery of the criminal justice system.

District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland and his chief deputy, Ted Thomas, went to Maggio’s chambers and told him “that what he requested was not proper,” the report states, and “the judge stated that he was misunderstood and there was no more conversation on the matter.”

This malicious misuse of the hot check process raises concerns about Maggio’s “integrity and independence,” the report states, and amounts to a judge using their office “to promote their own personal interests.” “Respect for the judiciary in general was compromised.”

In his comments to Maggio, JDDC Director David Sachar writes that “[e]ven the most elementary ethics analysis should have led you to identify this as a case that you should have had nothing to do with in your official capacity. … Your contact with Hot Check Coordinator, April Mathis, was poor judgment at best and left public officials in the reasonable position of thinking you were asking for special treatment.”

Maggio’s disclosure on the LSU fan forum, tigerdroppings.com, of a closed adoption in Faulkner County involving a celebrity mother “violated the trust” of the mother and “a violation of the faith of the people placed in your hands upon taking the oath of your office,” Sachar wrote in his comments to the judge, and “cast doubt on whether information in closed proceedings is ever truly confidential.”

Sachar also noted that Maggio’s online persona, “geauxjudge,” was hardly anonymous, since his comments revealed his status as a sitting circuit judge in Arkansas with a daughter who played golf at LSU and almost his full education background. “It took little time once the posts were sorted to find numerous facts in the posts that proved your actual identity.”

“The volume of your comments results in much more than a problem of tastes, decorum or personal opinion,” Sachar wrote. “It adds up to someone who demonstrates that he is unfit for the bench. Your actions offended and, even worse, gave rise to legitimate concerns that bias would overcome fairness and due process for a large number of potential litigants and their attorneys. Even the cases that you decided based purely on the facts and the law are now suspect by parties who look at the kind of statements you made. Whether it is race, gender, sexual orientation or specific subject matter, your comments made it impossible to be taken seriously as a judge who would be fair and impartial. You essentially disqualified yourself from the bench.”

Maggio was campaigning for Arkansas Court of Appeals when, in March, his online personality was made public. Such statements as his reply of “teepee or hotel” when someone on the fan forum asked if anyone had dated an Indian woman and “I will say I get tired of hearing how the husband works all the time (uhh no kidding how you think the bills get paid); that he had an affair (Ummm… the wife quits or shuts down sex to nothing, becomes unattractive, and non-supportive and then is shocked when he steps out) what did she think was going to happen…. Food and Frickin go a long way to helping a man overlook a lot of BS” spoiled his prospects for election.

His campaign consultancy firm dropped him as a client a few days after the “geauxjudge” comments came to light, and a few weeks later the state Supreme Court stripped him of his docket. Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson has taken over his cases.

Maggio, who technically still had power and authority over his court even though his docket had been stripped, will finish the year with paid suspension after the suspension order is imposed by the state Supreme Court. He agreed that the sanctions of removal from office and suspension were appropriate, according to the JDDC's findings.

The Arkansas Ethics Commission recently released findings that Maggio's campaign had accepted about $1,500 in excess of contribution limits — $250 in excess each from the Go Good government PAC and the Thomas Group PAC and $1,000 in excess from the DBH2 PAC — which was allowed to co-mingle with campaign funds before it was returned by Maggio's campaign. 

  • Comment
Comments (19) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Joe Lamb
323
Points
Joe Lamb 08/06/14 - 02:56 pm
0
0
Edit: A previous version of

Edit:

A previous version of this story stated that Troy Braswell and Cody Hiland visited with Maggio about his attempt to use the hot check process. Braswell is currently the district's chief deputy prosecutor, but at the time of this visit it was Ted Thomas in the position. JL

conwaygerl
5696
Points
conwaygerl 08/06/14 - 03:27 pm
1
0
Joe Lamb
323
Points
Joe Lamb 08/06/14 - 03:55 pm
0
0
Another edit...

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Amy Brazil had taken over Maggio's cases. Judge Ed Clawson took over Maggio's cases, as I have reported a few times and somehow forgot earlier today. JL

Joe Lamb
323
Points
Joe Lamb 08/06/14 - 04:01 pm
0
0
Update:

Click the link in the second paragraph to read the JDDC's letter of suspension and removal from office.

4hogfans
419
Points
4hogfans 08/06/14 - 08:15 pm
7
0
Paid vacation till December?

“It adds up to someone who demonstrates that he is unfit for the bench.

What is wrong with the judicial system that allows a judge who is unfit for the bench and has been suspended from ever sitting as a judge in AR to continue receiving his salary? Someone please explain because I just don't understand once the JDDC has ruled against him, how he continues to get a paycheck for five more months?

arkansan
1049
Points
arkansan 08/06/14 - 09:25 pm
7
0
Explanation

The judicial system has shown over and over again, there is two sets of rules. One for the rich and well connected, and one for the common person.
Anybody else(the peons) would of been fired a long time ago and fined.

c'mon man
1093
Points
c'mon man 08/07/14 - 08:46 am
3
0
Very good question

Joe Lamb, is there any way you could contact the JDDC Director and ask that question? I would love to hear the explanation on that one.

357
1866
Points
357 08/06/14 - 08:51 pm
7
0
Looks like he'll need a new

Looks like he'll need a new online name . . . how about geauxnowhere.

regular_joe
139
Points
regular_joe 08/06/14 - 09:27 pm
3
0
reminds me

I remember seeing geauxjudge at the Boys/Girls Club years ago, yelling at his 6 year old while she played basketball in an organized league. I assessed his character that day, and again years later when he frolicked with his g/f in the 'Boot Camp' class at Conway Regional Health Center (they were both married to other people at the time), and today that assessment was verified. Go back to Mississippi.

tracking wolf
633
Points
tracking wolf 08/07/14 - 07:23 am
4
0
I heard that the hotcheck

I heard that the hotcheck thing was just one of the things he did to that man while he was having an affair with his wife. Now ****nose will never get another girlfriend without the "Judge" title in his name. Is that a case of herpes on his lip or was he born that way?

Back to Top