Ethics complaint filed over Supreme Court handling of marriage case | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ethics complaint filed over Supreme Court handling of marriage case

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 4:47 PM

TIPPI MCCULLOUGH: Complaint against four on Supreme Court.
  • TIPPI MCCULLOUGH: Complaint against four on Supreme Court.
Tippi McCullough has filed a complaint with the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission over the Arkansas Supreme Court's handling of the appeal of the case to strike down the ban on same-sex marriage.

She relies on actions yesterday by two Supreme Court members as the basis for complaints against four justices who remain on a newly created related case — Justices Courtney Goodson, Karen Baker, Jo Hart and Robin Wynne.

Chief Justice Jim Hannah and Justice Paul Danielson recused from the separate related case yesterday. They said a four-person court majority created a controversy where none eixsted by making a separate case to determine whether Justice Rhonda Wood should vote on the marriage case rather than a special justice appointed before she took office.  Wood has recused from that case and was not named in McCullough's complaint.

Danielson suggested the possibility of ethical misconduct in delaying the case for improper reasons. Hannah said the case was created for no other reason but to delay a decision in the marriage case.

McCullough, who lost her job at Mount St. Mary Academy after marrying her long-term partner Barbara Mariani, has become a frequent spokesman for Stonewall Democrats on civil rights issues.

McCullough quotes from the justices' letters in her complaint and refers to comments in newspaper and blogs. She recounts the apparent completion of the case Nov. 20 and the delays and changes in court personnel that have occurred. She said it "behooves" the Commission to get a reliable account of  the delays, particularly whether there was collusion to delay the initial decision past Jan. 1 and then to further delay it so that the Supreme Court might rule first.

The complaint asks that when the Commission reviews the case that any members appointed by Goodson be made to recuse from the case or be disallowed from participating. The Judicial Commission previously dismissed a complaint about Goodson's influence as liaison to the commission in the appointment of two Fayetteville lawyers to the Commission.


McCullough also released a statement as president of the Stonewall Democratic Caucus:

This afternoon I mailed a packet and letter (some of which I will quote in this statement) to the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission lodging an official complaint against four of the Arkansas Supreme Court Justices for “grave breaches of the Code of Judicial Conduct” in matters regarding the latest round of stalling in the “so-called same-sex marriage case, currently identified as CV-15-227.” I will not go into great detail regarding this case since for they are well known.

I do in large part due to the letters of Justices Hannah and Danielson which should “serve as a formal complaint but since they were not lodged with the Commission I am making a formal complaint in their stead.” Justices Hannah and Danielson have recused and state in their letters that some of the other justices have engaged in “machinations” to avoid or delay making a decision.

The Commission must “use its powers to examine exactly what happened in each phase of the case. Even a glance at the Canons of Conduct, the Commission will find in the general categories:

1. A JUDGE SHALL UPHOLD AND PROMOTE THE INDEPENDENCE, INTEGRITY, AND IMPARTIALITY OF THE JUDICIARY, AND SHALL AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY. 2. A JUDGE SHALL PERFORM THE DUTIES OF JUDICIAL OFFICE IMPARTIALLY, COMPETENTLY, AND DILIGENTLY. 3. A JUDGE SHALL CONDUCT THE JUDGE’S PERSONAL AND EXTRAJUDICIAL ACTIVITIES TO MINIMIZE THE RISK OF CONFLICT WITH THE OBLIGATIONS OF JUDICIAL OFFICE.”

I ask for a prompt investigation and decision. I believe the Arkansas bar would appreciate it along with all Arkansans

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