JAS: Ex-Judge’s Bribery Case Shows Need to Reform Arkansas Judicial Selection
Contact: Laurie Kinney, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 588-9454; cell (571) 882-3615
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 24 - Justice at Stake Executive Director Susan Liss issued the following statement after a federal court sentenced former Arkansas Judge Michael Maggio, who was convicted of bribery in a case arising from campaign donations when Maggio ran for the state Court of Appeals:
“The bribery conviction of former Judge Mike Maggio, along with million-dollar-plus spending in this year’s Arkansas Supreme Court elections, spotlights the urgent need to reform the way Arkansas chooses its judges. We believe a merit-based system of appointing judges is the best way to select qualified judges and insulate them from politics and deep-pocketed donors.
“When the courthouse door is open for judicial election cash, the bankrollers may often expect something in return. We know that the flagrant criminal corruption in this case is unique, but unfortunately it flows from the same political culture that has fueled surging special interest spending in Arkansas judicial elections and elsewhere.”
Maggio was sentenced on Thursday to 10 years in prison.
This month, a post-Election Day tally of documented spending in Arkansas’ 2016 Supreme Court race showed total spending rose to at least $1,600,059.55 in a race for two seats, according to Justice at Stake. The current tally made the 2016 race the second most costly Supreme Court election in Arkansas history and broke a record for TV spending in an Arkansas judicial election.
Justice at Stake is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that advocates for fair and impartial courts.