Faulkner County Circuit Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson will be taking over all of Judge Mike Maggio’s criminal cases.
Maggio was effectively removed from his position as Circuit Judge by the Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday — though he remains a judge, all cases currently going through his court will have to be heard by other judges.
There are two investigations into Maggio’s conduct: one concerns misogynistic, homophobic and generally mean-spirited comments made on a LSU sports fan forum and the other concerns campaign contributions for state nursing home interests received after Maggio reduced a jury award in a nursing home negligence case. The alleged impropriety, or appearance of impropriety, of the comments and campaign contribution will be decided by the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Board, which has the authority to rebuke a judge or recommend the judge’s removal to the state Supreme Court.
Maggio isn’t going to be in his office this week, according to the county clerk’s office. On Tuesday the other circuit judges met and decided that Clawson, the senior judge, would take over Maggio’s role as "administrative judge," meaning that he would be the decision maker on matters like who gets what case from Maggio’s docket.
Clawson said on Wednesday that in the interest of keeping the prosecutor’s office from having to handle criminal cases in "three or four divisions, which in my opinion is untenable," he will be taking on all of Maggio’s criminal cases, which make up the bulk of Maggio’s docket. The civil cases going through Maggio’s court will probably be handled by a special judge appointed by the state Supreme Court, Clawson said, but that decision hasn’t had to be made yet.
Also, Clawson said, "the other judges have as much to do as they can do right now — not that I don’t — but this is the plan … until the first of June."
In June, Clawson said, the judges will consider a more permanent appointment of a special judge.
"We appreciate Judge Clawson shouldering the brunt of the impact here in relation to the docket," 20th Judicial District Prosecutor Cody Hiland said. "[having criminal matters in only two divisions] provides for a more efficient process. The problem with us would occur if it was spread over three or four judges is we would have people spread out all over the place all the time.
"This is nothing new for people that know him and know what kind of person he is, but we really appreciate Judge Clawson stepping up to this."