Complaint against local judge dismissed

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A complaint filed against Trumann District Judge Steve Inboden was dismissed last Friday by the Judicial Discipline Commission in Little Rock. The complaint concerned a 2006 case in which the judge signed both misdemeanor and felony warrants involving a local man. The two warrants involved the same offense.

The case involved a Nov. 7, 2006, fight at Wal-Mart in Trumann involving Trumann resident Willie Ed Bullock. Bullock engaged in the altercation with Bay resident Johnny Robinson. On Nov. 7, Imboden reviewed and signed a warrant charging Bullock with third-degree battery, a misdemeanor. Bullock was released on bond.

Several days later, on Nov. 13, according to records, Inboden was shown records that the victim, Robinson, had sought medical treatment. The judge then signed a warrant charging Bullock with second-degree battery, a felony.

Bullock was then arrested on the warrant and held overnight in jail.

Imboden told the commission that the procedure in the city of Trumann at that time was for the municipal judge to review all affidavits for warrants, instead of the city attorney reviewing the affidavits.

The complaint filed with the Judicial Discipline Commission alleged that Imboden's action violated two canons of judicial conduct: Canon 2, which requires judges to avoid any appearance of impropriety, and Canon 3, which deals with a judge's impartiality.

Judge Imboden, who conducts District Court throughout Poinsett County's cities, told the commission that the policy in place now has changed from policy in place in 2006.

"I should have been more adamant that it be done correctly," Imboden said.

The judge said that the practice in Trumann District Court was always to have the judge review the affidavits for warrants, instead of the city attorney. In 2006, he said, the judge would decide what type of crime was charged.

The commission of judges voted 5-4 Friday to dismiss the complaint.

"Judge Imboden has assured the commission that there is a new process in cases where he is not involved in reviewing the new affidavits in matters coming before his court," said Commission Chairman Leon Jamison.

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