Discipline agency provides report on delay in Naramore case | Arkansas Blog

Friday, February 24, 2017

Discipline agency provides report on delay in Naramore case

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 2:28 PM

click to enlarge Thomas Naramore and Judge Wade Naramore
  • Thomas Naramore and Judge Wade Naramore

The disciplinary investigation of Judge Wade Naramore of Hot Springs is subject of a public report from the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on the still open review of the judge following his arrest for negligent homicide in the hot car death of his child Thomas in 2015.

Naramore was acquitted and the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered a lifting of his suspension yesterday, but ordered that juvenile abuse and neglect cases in Naramore's circuit be reassigned to other judges. The decision effectively cut the legs out from under the still-open judicial commission investigation. The Supreme Court, which hears appeals of the commission's decisions, has already decided Naramore should go back to work. The Supreme Court's view of the case is certain to be raised when others face repercussions in similar matters — think drivers of daycare vans who''ve left children in a van all day.

Reporting by Marci Manley at Fox 16 and other evidence indicates  that the holdup in the investigation of Naramore, despite his acquittal, was likely related to review of  Naramore's potential placement on the state child abuse and neglect registry. His child died as a result of a negligent act, unintentional though it  was. Naramore has said the child was in the backseat of his car when he went to work in the morning on a hot day and he discovered his error after lunch.

This public circumstances would likely have prompted a report to state Child Protective Services. In such cases, a person can be placed on the child abuse registry for negligence or abandonment that causes death. A place on the registry that can enter into an employer's decision when doing a background check, particularly for such people as teachers and child care workers. The law, however, contains no bar to employment for court officials should such a listing occur.

A person so designated can ask for a hearing from a state administrative law judge. That person may appeal the law judge's finding to circuit court. Such cases proceed confidentially. A final adverse ruling in circuit court can be appealed to a higher court and the case then can become open to public view.

David Sachar, executive director of the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, made reports to the Supreme Court in the Naramore case that were placed today on the public court recorde.

One is a status report completed Jan. 31 and given, in confidentiality, to the Arkansas Supreme Court. It said the investigation remained open for reasons beyond its control.

All parties await information from a third party, of which, neither the Judge and his counsel nor the JDDC have any control over' The information is of sufficient importance so as to be considered dispositive in nature by the Director, Deputy Director and Investigation Panel 2 of the JDDC. Lack of receipt of this information kept the Panel from making a decision at their December and January meetings.

Upon receipt of th eintbrmation refercnced in paragraph four )above' the JDDC complaint against Judge Naramore for the death of his son, will either be dismissed, resolved by agreement or result in public charges. Any of these dispositions would be public information at the time of the decision of the Investigation Panel.
Also filed today is a partially redacted (portions were blanked out) updated status report completed Tuesday. It said, that Sachar had discussed with Naramore's attorney, Patrick Benca, " the uncertainty that could arise if the judge [remainder of sentence redacted.]" This seems likely to be a reference to the child abuse registry proceeding. The filing said Benca did not concede the unspecified matter would amount to a violation of the judicial code of conduct,  but said it was an "impediment."

The documents contain several other censored references to the unspecified proceeding. The  report says Benca was encouraged to wait for a completion of the proceeding, which could produce an outcome with no implications for the judge. This  status report said the disciplinary agency could find no precedent for a circumstance similar to what Naramore might be facing, including whether it might come into play with the general judicial conduct rule that says judges must promote confidence in the judiciary.

Sachar's report said Naramore and his attorney had been cooperative and professional throughout. It comments that the agency has no power to authorize any changes in case assignment plans. That reference, and the  existence of two status reports, indicate that the Supreme Court had requested the status reports and raised the assignment issue. It's unusual since the discipline agency nominally operates independently and the Supreme Court reviews its decisions. Here, the court intervened before completion. Their motivation is unclear. It could stem from public complaints in Hot Springs that a judge was somehow getting preferential treatment or from local media reporting on the $70,000 cost of paying substitute judges to serve for Naramore while he remained on suspension and drew full pay of about $160,000 a year.

Sachar's filing today defended hisagency's work in coping with the "heartbreaking facts" of an "unprecedented" judicial ethics case.

But he said, "To go forward with probable cause vote on judicial ethics charges by the Investigation Panel, based on ********** seemed unfair."

Though that unspecified matter apparently still pends, the Supreme Court decided anyway to act.

UPDATE: Here's Marci Manley's report on Fox 16, which includes documents that support the conclusion that an appeal of placement on the child registry explains the delay in completing the judicial investigation. She cites documents that indicate Naramore appealed to circuit court a "true finding" of neglect against Naramore. She said the filing at the Supreme Court indeed is meant to say there's never been a case in another state of a judge serving on the bench after placement on such a registry.

Tags: , , ,

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

Most Viewed

  • Attorney General Rutledge rejects full marijuana legalization ballot initiative

    Speaking of weed, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today rejected a proposed ballot initiative to fully legalize marijuana in the state.
  • The yawning teacher pay gap between Arkansas school districts

    Before Arkansas congratulates itself for outpacing Oklahoma on teacher pay, we should take a look at the huge disparity in salaries within the state. New teachers in Bentonville may make almost $46,000 a year, but new teachers in many other districts will start the 2018-19 school year earning $31,800 — less than the starting salary in Tulsa.
  • Trump's popularity among Arkansas Republicans remains overwhelmingly high

    In a recent survey of 676 likely GOP primary voters, the pollsters found 86 percent said they approved of Trump's job performance. Only 10 percent said they did not, and 4 percent said they didn't know.
  • Finally, a memorial to the 21 boys who were burned to death at Wrightsville in '59

    It has been 59 years since 21 teen-aged boys incarcerated at the so-called Negro Boys Industrial School were burned to death in their locked dormitory. The Times wrote about the event in 2008, after the brother and mother of one of the boys approached the Times looking for someone to remember the event, and headlined the story "Stirring the Ashes." But on Saturday, a monument to the boys was placed at Haven of Rest Cemetery, where 14 of the boys were buried.
  • Anonymous Harding University students relaunch LGBTQ publication, campus security removes copies

    A group of anonymous Harding University students on Friday published an "HU Queer Press 2.0" zine, covering issues of gay rights at the private, Churches of Christ-affiliated campus in Searcy. A similar publication, "The State of the Gay at Harding University," set off a firestorm of controversy at Harding seven years ago. Shortly after the publication was distributed, campus security officers began gathering the copies of the zine and throwing them in the trash.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation