The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission
has recommended that Lonoke District Judge Joe O'Bryan
be allowed to return to the bench. He primarily handles matters in Cabot.
He was suspended with pay Aug. 28 after he was arrested in a domestic violence case. A misdemeanor battery charge was dismissed Nov. 5 because the prosecutor said the woman involved didn't want O'Bryan prosecuted. He had continued to be suspended with pay pending action by the Judicial Discipline Commission. A panel voted unanimously Thursday to dismiss the complaint and recommended reinstatment to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which has the final word.
Robin Richard had said originally that they'd been drinking and O'Bryan began arguing when he said he was going to leave. She said he grabbed her by the throat and threw her on a kitchen table. He was arrested at his Cabot home later. Subsequently, Richard submitted an affidavit saying she didn't want to press charges. She said O'Bryan was a caring person and good judge.
O'Bryan is on the ballot in March. He has two opponents, at least one of whom says the case reflects poorly on O'Bryan's ability to pass judgment on people accused of the same thing.