Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen
Monday denied a request by Dr. Robert Rook
of Conway for a temporary restraining order to prevent the state Medical Board
suspension's of his license to practice on account of two pending rape charges.
Griffen's order, filed at 4:30 p.m. Monday, said that Rook had not exhausted his administrative remedies. Rook will have a full hearing before the state Medical Board in August on the temporary suspension. Rook was charged by Conway police for rape of two patients
The proceeding set off a flurry of actions today and some unhappiness on the part of Judge Griffen.
This morning, Circuit Judge Vann Smith,
administrative judge for the circuit in which Griffen sits, issued a recusal order to assign another judge to the case — after Griffen had already issued Monday's denial. Griffen, who called me about the development, called this "highly irregular."
I called Smith who explained that he'd acted after Rook's attorneys had called his office and talked to a law clerk. They said they'd been unable to get action from Griffen. The administrative judge is occasionally called to act to assign new judges when a judge is out of town.
In this case, Griffen's order did not show up on the court's website this morning when Smith's clerk checked, he said. And Smith's staff couldn't get in touch with anyone in Griffen's office. So he issued the recusal order. Griffen's denial appears on the computerized record now. Learning that, Smith set aside his recusal order and left the case with Griffen.
Griffen left town this morning for a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship meeting in North Carolina. I talked with him by phone there.
Griffen said he had no problem with Smith's actions, terming the recusal order a result of an oversight. But he wasn't so happy with Rook's lawyers in seeking another judge. He said he'd been in his office all day Monday and nobody had called him about progress in the case. He said a hearing wasn't required for him to consider the petition and he'd followed court rules in considering and denying the request for a temporary restraining order.
I have a call in to Patrick Benca, Rook's attorney.
Here's the order denying Rook a temporary restraining order.