Find out more →

Get unlimited access. Become a digital member!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Judicial panel suspends Hamburg judge over Walmart fight

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 2:14 PM

SCRAPPING AT WALMART: Freeze frame of Walmart security video shows Pope, with back to camera, talking to his wife.
  • SCRAPPING AT WALMART: Freeze frame of Walmart security video shows Pope, with back to camera, talking to his wife.

JUDGE SAM POPE: Disciplined over Walmart fight.
  • JUDGE SAM POPE: Disciplined over Walmart fight.
You read here first about the investigation by the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission of Circuit Judge Sam Pope of Hamburg for an April 5 fight with his estranged wife, Gayle Zimmerman, and a male friend in a Crossett Walmart.

Today, the Commission announced that Pope had agreed to a 30-day suspension without pay and to apologize for violations of judicial ethical rules. He promised to behave better in the future and to attend an anger management program. The state Supreme Court must sign off on the agreed outcome.

Here's the release on the case, which includes the police report and letter of apology. Pope says the "emotional and physical effects" of the end of his 33-year marriage had been difficult. He said he'd sought counseling and urged others in the same position to do the same. He acknowledged that his actions were "not appropriate or acceptable."

Crossett police filed no charges in the scrap, saying neither party wanted to press charges. Pope said at the time only that he was going through a divorce — it had drawn local press attention for some contention over items taken from the couple's home — and didn't want to discuss particulars.

The Crossett police report indicated that Pope, 58, greeted Bill Murray, 57, of Crossett, with the words "Hello, asshole" when he saw him with his ex-wife Gale Zimmerman in the Walmart. Murray replied "Hello, asshole" and the two began fighting. Pope and Zimmerman's daughter was also present. Pope complained that his wife had struck him three times and he wanted to press charges. Walmart security separated Pope and Murray, the police report says, and when police arrived, Pope reportedly "kept trying to get to Bill Murray," who "had blood on both sides of his face." Police arrested both men at the store, but released them shortly after when both agreed to not press charges. In the Judicial proceeding, Pope said he didn't believe he caused the bleeding that Murray experienced, saying it might have occurred as Murray grappled him. He said he'd only struck Murray with an open-handed "hand shiver."

Pope also told investigators that motions he made with his arm toward his wife, as seen in the video, were not attempts to strike her, but to "flick" a cross she wore around her neck and as a comment on her presence in the store with a boyfriend.

Pope's wife has complained since to me that law enforcement officials were reluctant to act against Pope because of cases in his court. Prosecutor Thomas Deen of Monticello, in providing me with a copy of the police report and the Walmart security camera video (sorry, we couldn't figure out a way to load the video) indicated the investigation was closed.

The Ashley News Observer reported in March that the sheriff's office was called about a number of items taken from Pope's home while he was on a mission trip in Central America, but an investigator concluded it was "likely the result of a domestic dispute and pending divorce." Missing items include artwork, books, a bookshelf, outdoor iron and wicker furniture, glasses, silverware, dining table, 200-piece set of china, living room furniture, desk and gun closet holding rifles, shotguns, pistols, gun stocks and scopes.

Tags: , ,

Speaking of...

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The homeward bound open line

    I'm off to the airport for a flight home to Little Rock. See you in the morning.
    • Dec 27, 2014
  • The lonely progressives

    A Nebraska liberal writes of the plight of the lonely progressives in a state dominated by Republicans. Sound familiar?
    • Dec 27, 2014
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Humanists sue over Baxter County nativity scene. Looks like another winner

    The Baxter Bulletin reported today on a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Baxter County resident over the Nativity scene that has been erected on the Baxter County Courthouse lawn for decades by local lawyer Rick Spencer.
  • Opinions split within GOP on "law and order" issues. Where will Asa stand?

    The New York Times reports that some Republicans are trending away from the lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to criminal justice embraced by the party's old guard, in part out of a recognition that minority votes matter now more than ever. Asa Hutchinson wants to reach out to black voters — what better place to start?
  • U.S. growth rate highest in ten years; Arkansas economy also looking up

    National GDP grew by 5 percent in the third quarter, according to a revised figure by the U.S. Commerce Department. Arkansas Business reported yesterday that forecasters also predict a strong year of growth ahead for Arkansas. We're still waiting for Obamacare to deliver its promised economic implosion.
  • Here's to Hutchinson, McCain and American revulsion at torture

    On Nov. 16, 1776, Gen. George Washington stood on the Jersey Palisades and peered across the Hudson River through his telescope as the British tortured American militiamen who had surrendered and then put them to the sword. Hearing the screams of his men, according to an aide, Washington turned and sobbed "with the tenderness of a child."
  • Easy on the pay raises

    An independent commission appointed by the governor, legislative leaders and the chief justice began work last week to fulfill part of Issue 3, the constitutional amendment that eased term limits, banned lobbyist gifts to legislators (sort of) and provided a mechanism for pay raises.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation