Ex-Judge Gets 10 Years in Bribery Case; JAS Cites Need for Reform

maggio_arrivesFormer Judge Michael Maggio was sentenced by a federal judge on Thursday to 10 years in prison on a conviction of bribery arising from a campaign donations case, according to the Associated Press. Justice at Stake said the case shows the need to reform judicial selection in Arkansas.

“The bribery conviction of former Judge Mike Maggio, along with million-dollar-plus spending in this year’s Arkansas Supreme Court elections, spotlights the urgent need to reform the way Arkansas chooses its judges,” JAS Executive Director Susan Liss said in a statement. “We believe a merit-based system of appointing judges is the best way to select qualified judges and insulate them from politics and deep-pocketed donors.

“When the courthouse door is open for judicial election cash, the bankrollers may often expect something in return. We know that the flagrant criminal corruption in this case is unique, but unfortunately it flows from the same political culture that has fueled surging special interest spending in Arkansas judicial elections and elsewhere.”

The AP said that then-Judge Maggio “lowered a jury award in a lawsuit in exchange for campaign donations from a nursing home operator.” Investigators determined, the AP said, that “he accepted a $50,000 campaign donation two days before reducing a jury’s $5.2 million award to $1 million.”