The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced today that it had issued a letter of censure to Circuit Judge Doug Martin of Fayetteville for comments he made during his successful election contest with Brian Lester.
The Commission’s letter didn’t repeat specific comments, but said Martin, who was serving by appointment in a judicial vacancy at the time, made statements that were “improperly prejudicial and harassing” against Lester and his supporters. On more than one occasion, the letter said, Martin “confronted” supporters of Lester. The letter said Martin “went beyond annual election rhetoric and gave the appearance of coercion whether intended or not.”
The Commission concluded Martin violated multiple parts of the canons of ethics, including about avoiding the appearance of impropriety and avoiding actions that conflict with or appear to conflict with duties of the office. Because Martin agreed to the sanction and didn’t contest it, the file on the basis for the complaint remains sealed. He agreed not to engage in such behavior again and to take a judicial education course on stress management. The letter said Martin would be monitored for 18 months to be sure he was in compliance with the agreement.
Martin won the election with almost 70 percent of the vote.