BENTONVILLE — A former circuit judge’s contempt case has been dismissed after Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green found she did not have jurisdiction to conduct a trial in the case.
Green issued a written ruling Thursday ending Jon Comstock’s case in circuit court and stating Comstock’s only option for appeal is to the Arkansas Supreme Court or Arkansas Court of Appeals.
Rogers District Judge Chris Griffin found Comstock, 72, of Rogers in criminal contempt July 8 and sentenced him to five days in the Benton County Jail. Griffin suspended all but 12 hours of the sentence. Comstock served those 12 hours immediately following his sentencing.
The case concerns an incident that occurred July 8, when Comstock went to the jail to observe bond hearings being held there that morning. Griffin was presiding as judge. Comstock said he was escorted to the courtroom at the jail and was sitting in an area behind a glass window where he could see, but not hear, the proceedings.
The audio was either turned off or not working, Comstock said. He said he attempted to make Griffin aware of the issue with the audio, but Griffin instructed him to sit down.
Comstock said he complied with the judge’s instructions, and Griffin conducted several hearings while Comstock was unable to hear. Griffin completed the hearings, and Comstock said he was getting ready to leave when a sheriff’s deputy told him Griffin wanted to speak to him.
Comstock said he went into the courtroom and the two discussed whether Comstock had a right to hear the proceedings. Griffin then found him in contempt and issued the sentence, Comstock said.
Comstock appealed the contempt finding.
Green originally ruled Comstock was entitled to a trial. In her order Thursday, however, Green found since Griffin was acting as a circuit judge while conducting bond hearings at the jail, she no longer has jurisdiction and a higher court needs to decide the appeal.
Jeff Rosenzweig, Comstock’s attorney, said he plans to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court to resolve a number of issues in the case.
Comstock was appointed in 2011 to fill a vacant circuit judge’s position in Benton County. He served as circuit judge from June 2011 to December 2012.
A bench trial in Comstock’s case had been scheduled for June 13, but on Monday, Green rescheduled it for Aug. 25 at Rosenzweig’s request. Rosenzweig said Comstock needed more time to recover from injuries he suffered in a fall.
Tracy M. Neal can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @NWATracy.