Honorable Chaney Taylor, a judge of the Independence County District Court in Batesville, Arkansas, received an admonishment from the state’s Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on Friday, July 21, 2023. The commission found that Taylor had engaged in misconduct by improperly contacting law enforcement officials.

The case is entitled “In the matter of Honorable Chaney Taylor” with case no. 22-131.

The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 1, rule 1.1, 1.2, and 1,3 which states:

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

A judge shall act at all times in a 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 judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others, or allow others to do so.

According to the JDDC, Judge Taylor contacted a state trooper while the trooper was transporting a speeding and reckless driving suspect. Taylor asked the trooper to give the suspect a citation instead of taking them to jail. The trooper proceeded with the protocol, but Taylor requested the suspect be released on their own recognizance with a court date. The suspect later entered a plea deal for the speeding charge, and the reckless driving charge was dropped.

The filing states:

“JDDC Investigation Panel 3 authorized a full investigation of the allegations against Taylor. The staff of the JDDC obtained, analyzed, and presented to the Panel: court records and dockets, witness statements and letters, information pertaining to Quorum Court matters, investigation information from law enforcement agencies, an audio recording (dash camera footage), and Taylor’s responses to the allegations.”

The filing continues:

“Taylor asked that the Trooper give the suspect a citation instead of transporting the suspect to jail. When the Trooper told Taylor that Arkansas State Police protocol for transporting the suspect to jail had been initiated, Taylor asked that the suspect be released on his own recognizance and given a court date. The suspect did not have a previous criminal history and later entered a negotiated plea to the speeding charge. Pursuant to the negotiation, the prosecution nolle prossed the reckless driving charge.”

In lieu of this, Judge Taylor accepted responsibility for his actions and promised not to engage in similar communications with law enforcement in the future. He has been cooperative with the JDDC throughout the investigation.

The agreement has been reached that an admonishment is a suitable penalty against the respondent. According to the commission,  the respondent’s acknowledgment of the violation of the code and the expressed commitment to remain vigilant about similar issues in the future influenced the Investigation Panel’s decision not to propose a more severe sanction, authorize public charges, or pursue a public disciplinary hearing.

The conclusion states:

“In view of these circumstances, it is the decision of the Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission that you are hereby admonished for your conduct at issue in 1/22-131. This Commission action is public information.”

Judge Chaney Taylor’s courtroom is located at 549 W Main St, Batesville, AR 72501, United States, and can be reached at +1 870-793-8817. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.