On Thursday, September 29, 2022, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission announced that 13th Judicial Circuit Judge Robin Carroll has agreed to accept a two-month unpaid suspension.

The judge was charged with violating Canons Rule 1.1, Rule 1.2, Rule 1.3, Rule 2.2, Rule 2.3, Rule 2.4, Rule 2.5, Rule 2.6, Rule 2.9, and Rule 2.11 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which states:

A judge shall comply with the law, including the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct.

A judge shall act at all times in o manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

A judge shall not abuse the prestige of the judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others or allow others to do so.

A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.

A judge may make reasonable accommodations, consistent with the law and court rules, to facilitate the ability of all litigants to be fairly heard.

A judge shall perform the duties of the judicial office, including administrative duties, without bias or prejudice.

A judge shall not be swayed by public clamor or feor of criticism.

A judge shall perform judicial and administrative duties, competently and diligently.

A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in o proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law.

A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex-Porte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers, concerning a pending or impending matter.

A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

The commission’s investigation uncovered three instances in which Carroll improperly dismissed cases, displayed bias while failing to recuse himself, attempted to improperly sway cases involving the state Game and Fish Commission in other courts, or lacked diligence in maintaining records and managing dockets.

The filing states:

“Summarily dismissing cases due to your personal feelings about a witness is a major breach of your duty to the public and undercuts the proper administration of justice. With the robe comes enormous power: you should always strive to set a tone of impartial justice.

Furthermore, when the public sees a judge ignore Constitutional principles and fail to follow appropriate procedures, it creates a distrust of all judges. Fairness is due to both sides in cases…

Any judge who harbors actual bias against a witness or party has a duty to recuse No one should have to ask a judge to disqualify when the judge is unable to be fair…

By your words and actions, you sent an incorrect message to the public that it is acceptable for a judge to hold actual bias against a witness and summarily rule instead of recusing. Hopefully, the message you resonated can be undone by the public being informed, through this sanction, that your actions were patently improper.”

According to the agreement, Carroll will serve three months without pay with one month being put on hold for a year. However, if Carroll commits further violations, the commission will seek to have the third month without pay imposed.

The filing concluded:

“You agree that a Suspension Without Pay is the proper sanction for the violations described in this letter. Suspension Without Pay must be reviewed by the Arkansas Supreme Court. JDDC investigation Panel 1, as approved by the regular members of the JDDC, recommends a suspension without pay for ninety (90) days with thirty (30) of those days held in abeyance for one year, having an initial impact of sixty (60) days of suspension without pay. The thirty (30) days are held in abeyance on the condition that you adhere to the remedial measure below. If you fail to fulfill the requirements in this agreement, the JDDC will petition the Supreme Court to impose the additional suspension and/or file new complaints and seek a more serious sanction.”

The Arkansas Supreme Court will have to approve the disciplinary action. The parties will submit the
requisite pleadings to present the agreement to the Supreme Court for their final judgment.

The Judge earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas in 1995.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.