Injudicious | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Injudicious

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2008 at 4:07 PM

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission today admonished District Judge Elizabeth Wise of Perryville for violating the judicial conduct rules by effectively banishing someone from the county. Facts on the jump.

STATEMENT FROM JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE

CASE #06-226

It is alleged that Judge Elizabeth Wise of the Perryville District Court, by the conduct indicated below, is subject to sanctions pursuant to ACA 16-10-410 (b)(4), for the commission of conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice and pursuant to ACA 16-10-410 (b)(5), for willful violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

THE CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT

CANON 1

A JUDGE SHALL UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY

An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society.  A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct, and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary will be preserved.  The provisions of this Code are to be construed and applied to further that objective.

Commentary:

Deference to the judgments and rulings of courts depends upon public confidence in the integrity and independence of judges.  The integrity and independence of judges depends in turn upon their acting without fear or favor.  Although judges should be independent, they must comply with the law, including the provisions of the Code.  Public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary is maintained by the adherence of each judge to this responsibility.  Conversely, violation of this Code diminishes public confidence in the judiciary and thereby does injury to the system of government under law.

CANON 2

A JUDGE SHALL AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL OF THE JUDGE’S ACTIVITIES

A.        A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

Commentary:

Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges.  A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety.  A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny.  A judge must therefore accept restrictions on the judge’s conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly.

CANON 3

A JUDGE SHALL PERFORM THE DUTIES OF JUDICIAL OFFICE IMPARTIALLY AND DILIGENTLY

B.        Adjudicative Responsibilities.

4.         A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, and of staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.

FACTS

1.         Elizabeth Wise is a district court judge in Perryville, Arkansas.

2.         On May 22, 2006 complainant Thomas Bernard, Jr. filed complaint #06-226 alleging Judge Wise engaged in injudicious temperament, procedural and administrative irregularities and legal error.

3.         A Perry County Deputy Sheriff stated that Judge Wise commanded officers to pick up a troublesome defendant if they see him in Perry County even though there were no active warrants for him.  Effectively, the judge was exercising a banishment or exile from the county.

4.         The Perry County Sheriff was asked about the allegation where the judge commanded law enforcement to pick up a troublesome individual if they saw him in Perry County even though there were no active warrants for this person.  The sheriff answered that the judge was tired of the individual constantly being in her court.  He knew of no major crimes the individual had committed.  The judge had ordered him to leave the county and not come back to Perry County even though his home was near the Perry/Pulaski County line.

5.         Perry County Chief Deputy gave a sworn statement.  He stated that he heard the judge tell a defendant that he was to leave their county and not return except for court.  She then told the deputies if they saw this defendant in their county they were to arrest him.

6.         Judge Wise stated that she does recall a defendant who was “wrecking havoc in our county.”  She released this defendant to his mother and stipulated that he not return to Perry County except for court.  She warned him that if he was caught back in her county without it being a court date he would be arrested. 

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