LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the immediate and permanent removal of an Arkansas judge who admitted making improper comments on an Internet forum.
The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission had recommended that Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio be suspended with pay and removed permanently on Dec. 31 — a proposed sanction that Maggio agreed to accept — but the state’s highest court said that punishment was insufficient.
The Supreme Court took all cases away from Maggio on March 24. In a per curiam order Thursday, the court said, “From that time forward, Judge Maggio has nonetheless received compensation as a judge, while others have performed the functions of his office. Consequently, we deem any further suspension with pay to be inappropriate.”
Maggio is “henceforth prohibited from holding any judicial office in the state of Arkansas,” the court said.
Maggio’s attorney did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment.
David Sachar, executive director of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, issued a statement Thursday expressing pleasure with the ruling and explaining why the commission did not recommend Maggio’s immediate removal.
“The JDDC did everything in their power to get the most severe penalty it could in a timely manner,” he said. “We had no way (while abiding by the Rules of Procedure that the Supreme Court created) to get the judge to trial by the end of the year. As such, his paycheck situation was not something we could change. The case would never have been in front of the Supreme Court in 2014 without the agreed sanction being approved by the JDDC in August.”
Maggio has admitted to several violations of the Supreme Court’s rules of judicial conduct, including posting comments under the pseudonym “geauxjudge” on TigerDroppings.com, an Internet forum for Louisiana State University sports fans, that disclosed confidential information about adoption proceedings by actress Charlize Theron in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
His other postings to the forum included jokes about ethnic groups, gays and bestiality. He also posted comments that men cheat because their wives become unattractive or deny them sex; that he wanted to be assigned cases involving attractive women and sexual subject matter; and that sex with teachers is like “trophy hunting” for teenage boys.
After the Blue Hog Report blog reported on Maggio’s Internet comments in March and the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission launched an investigation, Maggio attempted to edit or delete his comments.
Maggio also admitted that he improperly contacted the prosecuting attorney’s office in Faulkner County and asked that an arrest warrant be issued for his girlfriend’s ex-husband for issuing a child-support check on insufficient funds, and that he made no attempt to prevent the case from being assigned to him, which for a short time it was.
On July 11, Maggio reduced a jury award against a nursing home from $5.2 million to $1 million — three days after the home’s owner, Michael Morton of Fort Smith, donated thousands of dollars to a political action committee supporting Maggio. The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission began investigating that incident, but Sachar said last month the panel dropped the investigation after it found enough evidence of other wrongdoing to justify Maggio’s removal.
In June, the state Ethics Commission fined Maggio $750 for accepting campaign contributions that exceeded state limits.
Maggio was appointed in 2000 by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee to fill a vacancy starting in 2001. He was later elected and re-elected.