The Arkansas Bar Association, moving in the wake of state Supreme Court elections that saw heavy outside group spending, has set up a panel to examine whether the state should change how it picks judges.
An Arkansas Online article reported the development and quoted Justice at Stake Director of State Affairs Debra Erenberg as saying Arkansas is one of a handful of states looking at how judges are selected and the impact of “dark money” spending on judicial campaigns.
The panel will look at how to reduce the influence of “dark money” funded attack ads, and more rigorous rules for judges disqualifying from hearing cases that involve their donors, Bar Association President Eddie Smith said.
The article noted that last year, former Judge Michael Maggio pleaded guilty in federal court proceedings to bribery charges, in a case that involved campaign contributions (see Gavel Grab). This week, a federal judge denied Maggio’s request to change his plea and set sentencing for March 24, according to an Arkansas Times blog.