Judge Sam Pope

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission has recommended that Circuit Judge Sam Pope be suspended for 30 days without pay and undergo anger management counseling for an April 5 fight with his estranged wife’s boyfriend in the Crossett Walmart store. The suspension, if approved by the Arkansas Supreme Court, will go into effect on October 1.

According to information in a Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission press release, Pope and his estranged wife’s boyfriend Bill Murray, of Crossett, got into a verbal altercation which escalated to a fight captured on the store’s video cameras. Walmart security officers, other employees and store customers broke up the fight.

Pope and Murray were arrested at the scene and led from Walmart in handcuffs then transported in separate vehicles to the Crossett Police Department. After questioning, they were both released with no citations and they agreed not to press charges against each other.

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, which is the committee that disciplines judges, determined that Pope violated two rules of judicial conduct, failing to comply with the law and failing to promote confidence in the judiciary.

Pope accepted the commission’s findings and agreed to accept the 30-day suspension and write a letter of apology, according to the press release.

In his letter of apology, Pope said his conduct did not rise to the level he expects of himself or others and he regrets that it happened.

“I apologize for my conduct and for any negative repercussions related to the incident to those involved and to the public I have served for 18 years as Circuit Judge, the other judges who ably serve the State of Arkansas on a daily basis for any impact of my conduct on them, and for the adverse publicity that is an apparent by-product of this type incident…,” Pope wrote in his letter of apology.

Pope is a Division 1 judge in the 10th Judicial Circuit which covers Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha and Drew counties.

Read the full press release, including the police report and full letter of apology here: Press Release.