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story.lead_photo.caption Pulaski County Circuit Judge Willard Proctor Jr. (left) confers with his attorney, Austin Porter Jr., before the start of Proctor's hearing before the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on Tuesday morning. - Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

In a decision that bars him from the judiciary for life, the Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday stripped Willard Proctor Jr. of his circuit judgeship.

The rare move — Proctor, 47, is only the second judge ever removed from the bench — came as a result of Proctor’s involvement with a non-profit criminal rehabilitation group he started and for what the court said were improper relationships with probationers.

In a 64-page order issued Monday, the high court sided with the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, which sought Proctor’s removal from the bench.

Proctor had acknowledged making some missteps in his role overseeing Cycle Breakers Inc., but he contended that he merely was trying to run an innovative rehabilitation program and had stopped engaging in any activities that might seem improper. He told the Supreme Court earlier this month that his “motives were nothing other than pure.”

But the court said in a 4-0 decision that his actions went too far for him to maintain credibility as an impartial judge.

“We order Judge Proctor removed,” Justice Paul Danielson wrote for the court, which in this case included two specially appointed justices. Justice Robert Brown issued a concurring opinion that agreed with the court but separately chastised the state’s judicial-discipline panel for failing to follow some of its own rules as it investigated and tried Proctor on misconduct charges.

The court found that although Proctor had “good intentions” with his Cycle Breakers program for probationers, “good or true intentions do not absolve a judge of his or her ethical duties under the canons,” said the court’s opinion.

Proctor didn’t immediately return a call for comment left at his office Monday afternoon.

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.

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Archived Comments

  • BBQWilly
    January 25, 2010 at 6:04 p.m.

    I don't know the details of this case, but it sounds like a good judge was railroaded for actually doing something about a revolving door system. Maybe pissed off the other judges by going above and beyond his "duties". Can't make the rest of the "good ol' boys" look bad, dontcha know?

  • tandrews
    January 25, 2010 at 8:53 p.m.

    It would be nice if those who comment have the details/facts prior to posting. It is not okay for a Public Official in this capacity to have a vested/financial interest in in a program they have the ability to sentence people to attend. Regardless of any good intentions they may have had.

  • Swan
    January 26, 2010 at 10:55 a.m.

    The real disgrace in the Proctor hearing is the failure of the judicial oversight process. While Arkansas seems to rank in the upper half of the nation in its judicial oversight process (HALT 2008 Judicial Accountability Report Card) it scored an F in consumer friendliness. That translates into the state’s judicial-discipline panel works very hard at discouraging and interfering with judicial complaints.

    All across the nation, the judiciary has been allowed to shroud its complaint process in secrecy. The public needs to demand transparency in the filing, hearing, and disposition of all judicial complaints. Before having your case heard, you should be made aware of complaints made and sanctions levied against all judges assigned to your case.

    You should have the right to know if a judge has conflicts of interest and or will receive any benefits (campaign funds, money, interest, gifts, and perks) that would affect his fairness and interpretation of the law.

    You should also know if you make a judicial complaint if any board member is related to anyone in the complaint or has a conflict of interest. The penalties for failure to disclose conflicts of interest should be considered criminal.

    After the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance dismissed two of my complaints about the financial connection between my attorney and my judge, I sparked a federal investigation that led to the judicial bribery conviction and sentencing of Paul Minor and Judge John Whitfield.

    See Toxic Justice story and news and resources about the need for judicial reform. http://www.nancyswan.com and follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ToxicJustice

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