by Max Brantley
Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of Conway will be running for state Court of Appeals in a seat currently held by an appointee, Bill Walmsley. He joins friend Rhonda Wood of Conway, another candidate favored over the years as Maggio was, by Mike Huckabee. Wood is on the Court of Appeals. She's seeking the Arkansas Supreme Court and has used Huckabee robocalling in past campaigning. Though candidates run for judge in nonpartisan elections, both these candidates have strong identification with Republican politics, including entanglement in some recent prosecutions with political overtones.
Huckabee appointed Maggio to the bench originally and he subsequently was elected twice. He's made the news for more than getting enmeshed in byzantine Faulkner County politics.
He pulled out some sort of badge when a state trooper stopped him for speeding in 2010 and was sent along with a warning. As that story notes, he's also had tax liens filed against him and once fell into default on a $557,000 home mortgage.
Additionally, Maggio was cautioned and fined by the state Ethics Commission in 2008 for taking campaign money as personal income and failing to report how it was spent.
If that's not enough recommendation for elevating Maggio to higher judicial office, you'll want to know that he is also using the same dog whistle Wood is using in her race for Supreme Court. His release said:
““The people who know me the best have elected me to two terms to serve them as their conservative judicial voice of reason. My consistently conservative judicial philosophy is evidenced by my track record in those cases.”
"Conservative judicial philosophy" is a simply understood code. Criminals get no breaks. But, more important, it means that he'll vote for corporate interests and against injured workers and others with pesky damage lawsuits against bad doctors and the like.
Good example: He reacted unhappily to my reporting on a $5.2 million jury verdict in his court in a nursing home negligence case. It was over a patient who died in great pain without being transferred to a hospital as had been ordered.
I guess plaintiffs aren't supposed to get big verdicts in Faulkner County, at least not in Mike Maggio's court.