LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday reassigned the caseload of a judge being investigated for anonymous comments he posted online and contributions he received linked to a nursing home days before he reduced a judgment against the facility.
In an order signed by Chief Justice Jim Hannah, the court said it would name a special judge or judges to take over the docket of Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio. Maggio did not immediately return a call Monday afternoon.
“The Supreme Court has been advised that court operations in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, Division 2, have been disrupted, and that the orderly administration of justice has been severely compromised, due, in part, to recusal issues,” the order said. The two-page order didn’t cite the specific issues that led to the court’s decision.
Maggio earlier this month dropped his bid for a seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals after admitting to posting comments on a Louisiana State University fan message board, Tiger Droppings, under the pseudonym “geauxjudge.” The postings, first reported by the Blue Hog Report website, included one in which he revealed alleged details of confidential proceedings involving actress Charlize Theron’s adoption of her son. They also included a posting suggesting that women who seek divorces after their husbands cheat may be better off financially by staying married.
Maggio apologized for the comments when he dropped out of the appeals court race.
“I apologize deeply for my lapse in personal judgment and for that, I have no excuse,” he said in a statement earlier this month. “The comments posted were not acceptable. These comments are not a reflection of who I am.”
The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has said it is investigating the postings. The panel has the authority to recommend that the Supreme Court remove a judge from office. Maggio’s term is set to expire at the end of the year. David Sachar, the commission’s executive director, said the panel had not requested the order from the court.
In addition to the postings, the panel is also investigating contributions Maggio received for his appeals court bid from political action committees linked to the owner of Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Days after receiving the money in July, Maggio reduced a judgment against the nursing home in the death of a resident from $5.2 million to $1 million.
The court’s order didn’t refer specifically to either investigation, but said that the decision to reassign Maggio’s cases “should not be deemed as a judgment about, or determination of, any issues that are or could be pending before the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.”
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