Panel asks high court for judge’s suspension
Arkansas’ judicial ethics watchdog asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to temporarily suspend, with pay, Saline County Circuit Judge Bobby McCallister amid criminal and misconduct charges related to the judge’s income taxes.
Earlier this week, the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission accused McCallister of violating judicial ethics by failing to pay most of his income taxes over a nearly 20-year period.
Soon after, a special prosecutor filed criminal charges of tax evasion against McCallister and the administrative judge in the 22nd Judicial Circuit, covering Saline County, began reassigning McCallister’s cases.
McCallister surrendered to state police Thursday and was arrested, charged with four felony counts of failing to pay or file state income taxes. He was released on his own recognizance.
Spurred by the filing of criminal charges, the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission held a teleconference Friday to consider whether or not to seek an immediate temporary suspension from the bench.
According to a release from the commission, the nine members unanimously agreed to seek suspension until the outcomes of the criminal and misconduct cases against McCallister are complete.
McCallister earns $160,000 a year as a circuit judge, a position he has held since 2009.
The high court justices, who are on summer recess, still have to approve the commission’s request.
Chief Justice Dan Kemp said the court will give McCallister’s attorneys until Monday afternoon to respond to the commission’s request. A decision could be made Tuesday, he said.
McCallister’s lawyer, Patrick Benca, did not respond to a phone call Friday. His office has repeatedly declined to comment on the case.
If the misconduct charges against McCallister are validated, he could face a variety of sanctions from the commission. A suspension or removal from the bench would similarly require Supreme Court approval.