A former Arkansas judge who didn’t file state taxes for several years, including while he was a judge, was suspended for nine months by the state supreme court.
The court emphasized the serious nature of the misconduct and how it “had the effect of lessening the public’s faith in the judicial system.” But it declined to impose a longer suspension in part because Bobby McCallister “received the ultimate judicial discipline by having to resign from office.”
McCallister was a circuit court judge in Saline County from 2009-17. He was suspended in 2017 after being charged with four counts of violating state law for failure to file returns for 2011-13 and 2015, the Arkansas Supreme Court said. He entered a no-plea contest to violating one count of the law and resigned.
At McCallister’s disciplinary hearing in 2019 an auditor from the state finance department testified that he also hadn’t filed state taxes for 2001-03 and 2005-09, the court said.
McCallister explained that he was “never ... really good as a business person or with money,” it said.
The special judge assigned to the hearing found McCallister committed “serious misconduct” by violating professional conduct rules prohibiting dishonesty, criminal acts that reflect adversely on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer, and conduct that’s prejudicial to the administration of justice. But the judge also noted that he had “numerous” character witnesses, including judges, who testified about his professionalism and honesty, and therefore recommended a nine-month suspension.
McCallister agreed with the finding but argued for a shorter suspension or a reprimand.
The court found that because his misconduct didn’t relate to the practice of law and no clients were affected and McCallister had a “strong positive reputation in his community” and was known for his volunteer work, nine months were “sufficient to protect the public and the administration of justice.”
The case is Ligon v. McCallister, 2020 BL 60593, Ark., No. D-18-689, 2/20/20.