MICHAEL MURPHY: Moves to bench early.

Gov. Mike Beebe today named Michael Murphy, the Conway city attorney,  to complete Mike Maggio’s term as circuit judge, which ends Dec. 31.

The Arkansas Supreme Court tossed Maggio off the bench last week. He’d been relieved of hearing cases but was still being paid following the news of his involvement in multiple ethical and law enforcement investigations related to website postings and ties between campaign contributions to his race for Court of Appeals and his decision to lower a $5.25 million jury verdict against a nursing home to $1 million. The owner of the nursing home poured thousands into Maggio through personal and corporate contributions to both Maggio’s campaign and PACs that contributed to Maggio.


Murphy was already scheduled to take office in January in another circuit judgeship.Troy Braswell was elected to take Maggio’s seat. Maggio dropped his bid for Court of Appeals after the scandal broke.

Speaking of scandals: I heard an intriguing piece of information last week relative to the ongoing FBI review of campaign contributions to Maggio and the confluence of events in his court involving that nursing home verdict. The probe is apparently re-creating by the minute actions in the case. Might phone/e-mail/text messages tell a circumstantial tale about Maggio and such friends as Gilbert Baker, the former senator and political bagman who reportedly linked up nursing home owner Michael Morton (beneficiary of Maggio’s verdict reduction) with Maggio’s campaign and those of a number of other judicial candidates in Faulkner County, including sitting Supreme Court Justice Karen Baker, rising Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and Maggio’s circuit court successor, Troy Braswell?


I should add that Morton said he merely gives money to good, conservative candidates. His association with the Maggio matter hasn’t deterred his political giving. He’s given $60,000 to Republican attorney general nominee Leslie Rutledge, including $20,000 as recently as Rutledge’s June report. The attorney general’s office, coincidentally, has a Medicaid fraud investigation division. Nursing homes receive a lot of money for housing Medicaid recipients.