Disorder in the court | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 8, 2009

Disorder in the court

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 3:17 PM

The case of Circuit Judge Willard Proctor keeps getting messier.

Now that a state judicial panel has recommended Proctor's removal from the bench for unethical handling of probationers in his court, Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley in a letter Friday formally asked Proctor to avoid further conflicts. Jegley asked that he not assign new clients to the Cycle Breakers program Proctor created; that he not revoke probation of anyone currently in the program based on failure to pay fees; that he be sure defendants have counsel at hearings for probation revocation, and, finally, that attorneys with ties to Cycle Breakers not be allowed to serve as attorneys for such defendants or be appointed to serve as special judges in Proctor's court.

Well, Proctor wasn't in court Monday.

Who should show up to fill the judge's spot on the bench but Little Rock District Judge Mark Leverett? In theory, special judges are elected from those who regularly practice in the court. Leverett, under judicial ethics rules, may no longer have a private law practice. He's paid more than $130,000, nominally to be the full-time judge of the city environmental court.

His appearance was not a problem only because Leverett is a judge. It's a problem because he was private attorney for Cycle Breakers, back in the early days when it was blowing and going and Proctor and allies were dreaming of a national chain of rehab facilities funded by court fees. Leverett was the attorney who initially resisted the Times' efforts to open the public records of Cycle Breakers.

Prosecutor Jegley's office objected to Leverett's election Monday, but they were outvoted by defense lawyers. Then it objected, as each case was called, to his hearing cases covered by circumstances in the letter. Leverett, observers said, wasn't happy with the development and ultimately passed all the cases until Proctor's return on Tuesday. He threw a "hissy fit," Jegley said he was told.

Leverett should have stayed 50 miles away from the appearance that he was stepping into his former legal client and friend's shoes to continue his discredited work.

Jegley said he'd moved carefully during the time when only allegations pended against Proctor, but in the face of formal findings about improprieties, he's required now to act to prevent future conflicts. "I've walked as carefully as I can. If he wants to be pissed about it, he can be pissed."

Proctor doesn't return our calls. Nor does Leverett since our reporting on some ethical questions pertaining to him.

MEANWHILE: Filings have arrived on the recommendation for Proctor's removal, pending before the full nine-member state judicial discipline commission. The staff calls for an even stiffer finding than the three-judge panel recommended, including removal while his expected appeal pends. Proctor's filing says he's done no willful wrong.

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Anybody around?

    The Thanksgiving open line.
    • Nov 23, 2017
  • Turkeys rescued in Yellville enjoy their Thanksgiving

    Farm Sanctuary, an animal protection organization, sends word that four turkeys rescued from the Yellville Turkey Trot after the annual drops from buildings and an airplane will enjoy Thanksgiving in friendlier places
    • Nov 23, 2017
  • The New Orleans charter school 'miracle'? It's a ruse

    The New Orleans Tribune has a devastating piece of editorial commentary, based on local reporting and test scores, that lays bare the depiction of the charterization of New Orleans public schools 12 years ago as a miracle of the "reform" movement.
    • Nov 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Judge anticipates punishment of lawyers in Fort Smith class action case

    Federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith issued a 32-page ruling yesterday indicating he contemplates punishment of 16 lawyers who moved a class action lawsuit against an insurance company out of his court to a state court in Polk County after a settlement had been worked out.
    • Apr 15, 2016
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • Kenneth Starr: A comment from Betsey Wright

    Betsey Wright, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff when he was Arkansas governor, responds bitterly to a New York Times article today quoting Whitewater Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's warm words about Clinton. She can't forget the lives Starr ruined in Arkansas.
    • May 24, 2016

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Anybody around?

    • Great story deadseasquirrel! I haven't heard the NPR version. As someone who grew up during…

    • on November 24, 2017
  • Re: Anybody around?

    • NVR, have you heard arlo's performance of Alice's Restaurant that was on npr some thanksgiving,…

    • on November 24, 2017
  • Re: Anybody around?

    • Max and friends please listen to first two hours of this- November 20, 2017. Dane…

    • on November 24, 2017

Blogroll

 

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