The Arkansas Supreme Court has suspended a trial judge for 30 days after police had to intervene in an apparent love-triangle brawl at a Wal-Mart.
The state’s high court on October 4 approved a disciplinary commission’s finding about a fistfight in April between state Circuit Judge Sam Pope of Hamburg, Ark., and his estranged wife’s male companion. Besides the suspension, the justices ordered Pope to attend anger management classes. He had acknowledged his misconduct and agreed with the commission’s findings, the court said.
Pope did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The fight, captured on Wal-Mart surveillance video, was detailed in a report by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. According to the report, Pope and his daughter spotted Pope’s estranged wife and her male friend, identified as Bill Murray, in the photo department of the Crossett, Ark., Wal-Mart on April 5.
After Pope approached Murray, the two men called each other “ass-hole” and then engaged in a physical fight that sent them scuffling to the floor, the report said. Pope’s wife, according to the report, struck him three times during the altercation.
Employees and shoppers tried to intervene and move carts out the way as the fight unfolded. Onlookers called 911 and police arrived within moments, hauling Pope and Murray away in handcuffs. No charges were filed.
In responding to the commission’s findings, the judge said that he “very much” regretted that he allowed his wife’s alleged infidelity to prompt him “to engage in conduct that was neither appropriate nor acceptable,” according to the report.
The court found that Pope violated a provision Arkansas’ judicial ethics code that requires judges to promote “public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary.”
The 30-day suspension began immediately.
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