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The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission ("JDDC") announced on Friday, November 18th that it had issued an "adjustment" letter to Judge Mary McGowan she had accepted an "informal adjustment" for taking too long to rule on a lawsuit.

McGowan acknowledged that she took 13 months to resolve a lawsuit which attorney Sam Perroni filed against the  JDDC in 2012.


In 2012, Perroni won a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against JDDC. In deciding that lawsuit, McGowan agreed with Perroni that the agency had to reveal the names of the commission members who had cleared Fox of the allegations Perroni had made against him.

In his suit against JDDC, Perroni accused it of exceeding its authority when it failed to sanction another judge about whom Perroni had complained: Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox.


All arguments were submitted to McGowan by the end of 2014, but she didn't dismiss the lawsuit until January 2016, the commission's sanctioning letter says.

When McGowan finally dismissed Perroni's suit, she sided with the Arkansas attorney general's office argument that the commission operated in accordance with the law that created it and the state Supreme Court rules that govern it.

McGowan found that the circuit courts do not have the authority to review the operations of an agency controlled by the Supreme Court and that Perroni had not been harmed by any action of the commission, so he could not challenge its procedures.

McGowan has acknowledged that the delay violated judicial canons that require a judge to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary while avoiding the appearance of impropriety, perform judicial duties diligently and put judicial duties ahead of any personal activities or interests, the letter says.

The "adjustment" letter issued by the commission is its mildest reproach, according to the announcement.
This is not the first time the JDDC has slapped McGowan hands.

In 2008 (Case #08-290), the JDDC reprimanded MCGowan for failing to report cases that had taken longer that three months to rule on in violation of Administrative Order #3 and for "lapses in demeanor while on the bench" (case #05-150).

The JDDC apparently took its own sweet time in making a decision on the 2005 complaints in which described her "lapses in demeanor..." as "not being patient and courteous to litigants and lawyers and others whom you deal in an official capacity in violation of Canon 3(b)(4)."


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