Former Judge Michael Maggio has petitioned a federal court to release him from prison and contends one of his attorneys misled and pressured him into pleading guilty to bribery in 2015.
The development means that Maggio has waived attorney-client confidentiality, and the U.S. attorney's office has asked the court to allow that office to confer with Maggio's two original attorneys so that the federal government can prepare a response to Maggio's petition, according to a subsequent motion filed by that office.
Maggio's petition mentions only one of his previous lawyers, Lauren Hamilton, now Lauren Hoover. But the U.S. attorney's motion says Hoover and Marjorie Rogers were Maggio's co-counsel and that the privilege waiver would apply to both.
Contacted by email Friday, Hoover said, "I have no comment on this matter."
In Little Rock, U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland said, "We will file our written response to the motion with the court at the appropriate time."
Hiland did not answer a question as to whether a federal investigation of two other people, implicated but never charged, was still underway. Nursing-home owner Michael Morton and former state Sen. Gilbert Baker, R-Conway, have denied wrongdoing.
Maggio's petition for habeas corpusView
In July 2017, Maggio, 57, began serving a 10-year sentence. He is incarcerated at the Big Sandy U.S. Penitentiary in Kentucky. A former judge in the state's 20th Judicial Circuit, Maggio signed the new petition himself. No other attorneys, including his more recent ones, signed it.
In the petition filed Monday, Maggio said he did not know if Hoover, whom he referred to by her previous name Hamilton, had ever read the federal statute under which the government prosecuted him. He said it appears she just took an assistant U.S. attorney's word on the federal government's "jurisdictional reach."
"If Lauren Hamilton failed to undertake independent investigation, then she was not acting as Maggio's advocate, but simply as a[n] extension of the United States Attorney's office," he wrote.
Maggio contended the statute to which he pleaded guilty did not apply to him as a state judge -- an argument previously but unsuccessfully advanced in his appeals. He also argued that he is "legally and factually innocent," that he did not order a lawsuit judgment lowered in exchange for a bribe.
"He was rushed to judgment by use of ... haste being necessary inasmuch as Hamilton deceitfully advised him that two other individuals referred-to in the [plea agreement] were themselves pushing to plead [guilty] in order to testify that he had committed a crime, in order to obtain more lenient treatment for themselves," Maggio wrote.
"She [His attorney] also alleged that the Government would initiate a prosecution against his [Maggio's] wife, unless he pleaded guilty himself," he added.
U.S. Attorney’s Office asks court to find that Michael Maggio has waived attorney-client privilegeView
"Maggio was continuously pressured by his grossly negligent counsel to plead guilty as quickly as he could because, she alleged, lawyers for [Morton] and [Baker] were making 'twenty calls a day' to the United States Attorney's office, trying to get a more lenient sentence by testifying in some fashion against him for 'extortion,'" the petition said.
In reality, Maggio said, "Counsel for [Morton and Baker] were not calling the U.S. Attorney to make a deal, and had no interest in doing so."
Maggio said he later learned that a lawyer for one of the two men had "repeatedly been calling" Maggio's own counsel to explain jurisdiction problems with the case but that "Hamilton would not return that lawyer's calls!"
In his plea agreement, Maggio admitted lowering a Faulkner County jury's judgment in a negligence lawsuit from $5.2 million to $1 million in exchange for thousands of dollars in indirect campaign donations.
The lawsuit was filed over the 2008 death of Martha Bull, 76, of Perryville at a Greenbrier nursing home owned by Morton. On July 8, 2013, Morton signed off on thousands of dollars in donations to several political action committees. On July 10, 2013, Maggio slashed the judgment.
Morton has said he intended for the PAC donations to go in turn to Maggio's campaign for a seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals, and some did. Maggio later withdrew from that race.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified one of Maggio's attorneys. Marjorie Rogers is the name of Maggio's co-counsel.
State Desk on 11/03/2018
Print Headline: In filing, Maggio says attorney misled him