Favorite

Maggio: unfit for the bench 

Filing closed for Arkansas judicial races with only a scattering of contested races.

At every level, many spots are filled by candidates who expected to be financed by wealthy business interests anxious to see legislated from the bench what they haven't been able to win at the legislature: further limits on damage lawsuits.

One notable victory for the Chamber of Commerce and its allies was Rhonda Wood, a Court of Appeals judge who drew no opposition for an open seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court. She made more than half her initial campaign contributions from the nursing home industry, which was a "tell" on her philosophy surer than a blinking, sweating poker player in a Texas hold 'em game.

But a little bumpy spot emerged this week for one chamber-approved candidate. Circuit Judge Mike Maggio suffered a grievous political blow.

Maggio, of Conway, made the rounds of Republican county committees politicking with his friend Wood and also scored nursing home contributions thanks to the help of UCA's publicly paid $132,000-a-year lobbyist, Gilbert Baker of Conway, in between Baker's money bundling for Republican legislative candidates. He was expected to win unopposed.

But Blue Hog Report's Matt Campbell, a lawyer and records sleuth, uncovered Maggio's prolific posting under the pseudonym "geauxjudge" on an LSU fan website, Tiger Droppings. Maggio gave away his identity with personal references. Much of his writing was juvenile. It was sexist (women are only interested in bulges in pants or wallets); racist (ever see a doctor named Tanisha?); homophobic (don't go to Disney World during gay pride week), and outlandishly scornful of Arkansas. Over and over, Mississippi native Maggio depicted Arkansas as an incestuous backwoods. Example: "What's the most used line in Arkansas? Daddy get off of me. You're crushing my cigarettes."

It's an interesting question whether Maggio broke any ethical rules with anonymous comments. But he was exposed. And litigants in his courts — women, blacks, gays, poor Arkies — now have reason to question his impartiality.

Maggio brought to this race a sketchy record — including messy personal finances and Ethics Commission discipline for spending campaign money on personal expenses. His astonishing ruling to help a negligent nursing home sued over the excruciating death of a patient — reduction of a unanimous $5 million jury verdict to $1 million — also had been noted.

Blue Hog revealed more than a contemptuous judge. He revealed that Maggio, on a message board for football fans, had said that actress Charlize Theron had come to Faulkner County in 2012 to adopt her son Jackson. Adoption proceedings are secret. Maggio's violation of that should be ground for removal from the bench.

At the very minimum it was ground for voters to prefer Judge Bart Virden of Morrilton, a last-minute filer for the same Arkansas Court of Appeals seat. Shortly before press time, Maggio issued a brief no-comment, prompting his campaign consultant to quit over his apparent decision to stay in the race in the face of crippling disclosures.

Maggio's actions were already under review by the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission when Blue Hog and Arkansas Blog reports appeared Monday. Even if Maggio eventually decides to get out of the Court of Appeals race, that review continues. He remains on the circuit court bench through the end of this year.

There's high irony in the development. Maggio was the designated candidate of the business lobby. Virden is a past president of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association, generally pitted against the chamber of commerce in legislative battles. Looking for a strict construction conservative to advance their cause, the business lobby came up with a fistful of Tiger droppings.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • City Board discovers LRSD

    An article in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reminded me of John Belushi in "Animal House" exhorting frat brothers to rally against a dean's effort to put them out of business. "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Supremely disappointing

    The Arkansas Supreme Court last week delivered a blow to civil rights in Arkansas. It was another results-oriented decision that gives a clue to how far the justices likely will go to appease the legislature.
    • Mar 2, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Arkansas is the perfect place to try out this new health trend. Read all about the what, why, where and how here.

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    • Thank you Max. Wonderful, pointedly (if that is a word) laying out what is so…

    • on March 25, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Well, aren't we the compassionate one - "own family members" can mean small children -…

    • on March 24, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Of course you don't care. If you cared, you might want to find a solution…

    • on March 24, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation