On Friday, May 31, 2024, the Nea Report reported that Doug Brimhall’s term as circuit judge before the Jonesboro district court had been called into question in light of recent criminal allegations made against him.

According to the article, Brimhall was elected to the circuit judge position in March after winning a special election against Curtis Walker. However, he was arrested on May 21st and charged with aggravated assault on a family or household member, a felony offense.

While Brimhall is considered innocent until proven guilty, the arrest raised concerns about whether he could still serve as a judge given the serious criminal charge. The article explained there are two processes through which a judge can be removed from office under Arkansas law – an investigation by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission or impeachment by the state legislature.

The JDDC, which is responsible for investigating misconduct complaints against judges, confirmed they were aware of the situation with Brimhall. If the commission’s investigation determines there was a violation of the Arkansas Judicial Code of Conduct or other impropriety, they could recommend disciplinary action to the state Supreme Court.

Impeachment was noted as another rarely used option, with the last instance in Arkansas occurring over 150 years ago, involving then-Chief Justice John McClure. However, the article clarified judges in Arkansas are not subject to recall elections, as some readers had asked.

The legal grounds for removing a judge from office according to Arkansas statute include conviction of a felony or other offense reflecting dishonesty or misconduct. The alleged details of Brimhall’s arrest, as described in the probable cause affidavit, could represent violations of Sections prohibiting conduct prejudicial to justice or habitual intoxication.

Should Brimhall ultimately receive a criminal conviction, it would directly qualify him for removal under the law. But the article maintained even without conviction, the accusations alone may meet the standard of appearing to impair a judge’s integrity or fitness for the position as outlined in the state’s Judicial Code of Conduct.

In summarizing the unresolved situation, the Nea Report explored the next steps in Brimhall’s upcoming judgeship and the criminal case still pending against him. Its detailed examination provided insight into the state’s process for addressing potential judicial impropriety through official avenues of investigation and discipline.

 

 

Source: Nea Report