- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Circuit Judge Michael Maggio settled a complaint filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission by paying a $750 fine for accepting campaign contributions above state limits.

Maggio had been under investigation since at least early March, when he was linked to online comments he had made anonymously about a wide range of topics, including women, sex, divorce, bestiality and an actress’ legally confidential adoption in an Arkansas court. Maggio apologized for those remarks and said he would not run for a seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

But he later came under scrutiny for campaign donations from political action committees traced back to a nursing home owner that had a case pending in Maggio’s court.

Fort Smith businessman Michael Morton made thousands of dollars in PAC donations in checks dated July 8, the same day Maggio heard a request to reduce a Faulkner County jury’s judgment against one of Morton’s 32 nursing homes. Three days later, Maggio cut the $5.2 million award to $1 million.

Thomas Buchanan, the Little Rock-based attorney who had reported Maggio, called the fine a “slap on the wrist,” according to a story published Saturday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1q1dcSs ).

“I don’t blame the Ethics Commission at all, but their hands are pretty much tied in terms of the scope of their investigation,” Buchanan said.

“In the end, I believe that the Ethics Commission did what it should have done,” he added. “But the commission is of such limited jurisdiction … that one really couldn’t have expected true justice. That’s for another day.”

Maggio and his attorney, Lauren Hamilton, didn’t return the newspaper’s phone and email requests for comment Friday.

The Arkansas Supreme Court stripped Maggio of all cases in March and he has not yet been allowed to return to hearing cases. Maggio also remains under investigation by the FBI and the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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