Arkansas judge hit with sanction resigns

Suspension was set at 18 months

Robin Carroll is shown in El Dorado in this Jan. 29, 2008 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staton Breidenthal)

A south Arkansas judge suspended without pay by the state Supreme Court over what it described as an "extended pattern of misconduct" submitted his resignation late Friday afternoon, the state Administrative Office of the Courts announced Saturday.

In a news release, the office said Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp received an email from 13th Judicial Circuit Judge Robin Carroll at 4:29 p.m. Friday.

The email simply stated, "I resign as Circuit Judge effective immediately."

Kemp accepted Carroll's resignation, the news release said.

Carroll's resignation came after the Supreme Court had suspended him for 18 months after finding the length of the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission's recommended suspension insufficient.

The news release said Kemp had declared a vacancy in Division 4 of the 13th Judicial Circuit. It said Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been notified, and a request to fill the vacancy has been made.

The commission's investigation found three instances in which Carroll improperly dismissed cases, demonstrated bias and failed to recuse himself, tried to improperly influence state Game and Fish Commission cases in other courts or showed a lack of diligence in record-keeping and docket management.

Carroll and the commission had agreed to recommend to the state Supreme Court that it impose a suspension without pay for 90 days, with 30 days held in abeyance for one year.

The commission's report said suspending Carroll without pay was recommended "due only to his cooperation, admission of guilt, mitigation, and acceptance of the remedial measures."

On Friday, the Supreme Court modified the recommended sanction by suspending Carroll without pay for 18 months, with six of those months held in abeyance for one year upon his return to the bench contingent on his compliance with certain remedial measures. In addition, the court ordered Carroll to perform an assessment and complete a plan with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

"After considering the factors set forth above and the seriousness of the conduct at issue, we conclude that the length of the suspension recommended by the Commission is insufficient," the state's high court said in a per curiam order on Friday.

"The Commission itself equated the scope, impact, and pattern of Judge Carroll's actions to 'one of the most egregious types of judicial misconduct,' along with being corrupt and intolerable."

Attempts to reach Carroll for comment on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Carroll, 51, was one of the six judges of the six-county circuit encompassing Calhoun, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita and Union counties.

Representing the 4th Division, he presided over criminal cases in Calhoun, Dallas, Ouachita and Union counties as well hearing civil cases in Calhoun, Cleveland, Columbia, Ouachita and Union counties. He also handled some probate cases in Calhoun County.

Licensed since 1996, Carroll was elected in 2012 without opposition after serving as the circuit's elected prosecutor for two terms before running for the Union County-based judgeship. He won reelection in 2014 and 2020 also without facing a challenger.