by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Supreme Court docket shows that Circuit Judge L.T. Simes' request for a rehearing of the order suspending him from the bench was denied Tuesday and the mandate was sent to the clerk.
The effect is that Simes is now suspended without pay through 2010 under terms of the court's order resolving an effort to remove him from the bench by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. Other disciplinary complaints pend against Simes. He could run for the office again under terms of the last Supreme Court order.
Ben Story, the administrative judge for the judicial district in which Simes sits, has notified attorneys on cases there of the change, which will require schedule and judge changes. (CORRECTION: It will be Judge Richard Proctor of Wynne, not Judge Willard Proctor of Little Rock, as I wrote erroneously, who will pick up some of the caseload.)
Until the rehearing was denied, Simes had continued to hear cases. Just last week, he issued an arrest warrant for an alleged FOI violation by a city clerk who'd failed to produce records requested by a Helena Daily World reporter.
WRINKLE: Simes cannot practice law as a judge, even though he's suspended withOUT pay. He could resign and run again in 2010, but he'd have to give up the title of judge for the race and it might limit his ability to sue the Judicial Commission, should he be in a mind to do so. If he ran again, and won, he could face removal again from pending charges. It's a fine mess.
LETTER FROM BEN STORY
I have learned that Judge Simes' Motion for Rehearing before the Arkansas Supreme Court was denied on November 24, 2009.
Regarding the Phillips County Criminal Term, Judge Proctor will hold criminal court on Monday (Nov. 30th) and Tuesday (Dec. 1st) in Helena and Judge Hudson will hold criminal court on Wednesday (Dec. 2nd) in Helena and she will also hold Juvenile Court, as usual, on December 2nd in Helena.
The First Judicial Circuit Judges are unable, at this time, to hold criminal court on Thursday and Friday (December 3rd and 4th) in Phillips County. All attorneys and criminal defendants who are scheduled to appear in Criminal Court on December 3rd or 4th should appear on Monday, November 30th. Judge Bell will hold criminal court on Monday, December 7th in Helena.