LITTLE ROCK — The state commission that disciplines judges recommended Friday that a circuit judge in southern Arkansas be suspended for 30 days for fighting with his estranged wife’s boyfriend in a Walmart store.
The state Supreme Court will consider the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission’s recommendation in the case of Circuit Judge Sam Pope.
On April 5, Pope confronted his estranged wife and her boyfriend, Bill Murray, in the Crossett Walmart and a scuffle followed. Store security, other employees, Pope’s estranged wife and their daughter broke up the fight, which was caught on the store’s security camera.
Pope and Murray, who suffered cuts on both sides of his face, were taken into custody by Crossett police. After questioning they were released and agreed not to file charges against each other.
The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on Friday determined that Pope violated two rules of judicial conduct, failing to comply with the law and failing to promote confidence in the judiciary.
Pope agreed with the panel’s findings and accepted the 30-day suspension as well as an order to write a letter of apology to the commission, according to a news release from the commission.
Because only the state Supreme Court can impose an unpaid suspension on a judge, the high court will review the panel’s recommendation, which also states that the suspension is to begin Oct. 1.
"The emotions and physical effects that arose in me as a result of our marital breakup have been difficult," Pope wrote in his apology letter. "I have now sought the help of a professional counselor and would encourage anyone going through a similar experience to do the same."