LITTLE ROCK — A state panel that disciplines judges issued a letter of censure Friday to a circuit judge in Northwest Arkansas over his conduct while campaigning for office this year.

LITTLE ROCK — A state panel that disciplines judges issued a letter of censure Friday to a circuit judge in Northwest Arkansas over his conduct while campaigning for office this year.


The state Judicial Disability and Discipline Commission said Circuit Judge Doug Martin of Fayetteville violated several rules of conduct for Arkansas judges by making improper statements about his opponent, Brian Lester.


Gov. Mike Beebe appointed Martin to the Division 2 position in the 4th Judicial District, which includes Washington and Madison counties, for a term that began Jan. 1, 2013. In the May 20 nonpartisan election, Martin defeated Lester with 69 percent of the vote to win the Division 1 position in the district.


The Judicial Disability and Discipline Commission’s censure letter to Martin, signed by Executive Director David Sachar, did not quote Martin’s improper statements but said he made "statements that were improperly prejudicial and harassing against his opponent and his opponent’s supporters."


On more than one occasion, according to the letter, Martin confronted members of the community regarding their association with Lester.


Martin’s behavior "went beyond normal election rhetoric and gave the appearance of coercion whether intended or not," the commission said.


The commission said it would monitor Martin’s behavior for the next year and a half and could file new allegations if he is not in compliance with the state Code of Judicial Conduct.


Martin did not immediately return a call Friday seeking comment.