Ex-judge who posted details of Theron adoption loses license

AP News
Posted: Apr 17, 2015 8:20 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The former Arkansas judge who posted details online about Hollywood actress Charlize Theron's private adoption was allowed to voluntarily surrender his law license on Thursday, enabling him to avoid a disciplinary hearing following his bribery conviction in an unrelated case.

Former Circuit Court Judge Michael Maggio filed a request with the Arkansas Supreme Court in March to voluntarily surrender his law license, two months after he pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges.

In accepting the request Thursday, the high court barred him from practicing law in the state and ordered that his name be removed from Arkansas' registry of licensed attorneys. The court order noted Maggio, "wishes to avoid the expense, stress and publicity of further addressing his conviction."

A call to Maggio's attorney for comment was not immediately returned Thursday.

Maggio faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced in July in the bribery case. Prosecutors said he accepted campaign donations from nursing home owner Michael Morton and a lobbyist in exchange for reducing a jury award in a negligence case.

In that case, Maggio reduced the jury award from $5.2 million to $1 million in a lawsuit stemming from the death of a nursing home patient. Campaign finance records showed Morton's political action committees contributed money to Maggio's campaign for the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

The family of the woman who died, Martha Bull, filed a lawsuit late last year against Maggio, nursing home owner Michael Morton and lobbyist Gilbert Baker protesting the reduction of the award. A circuit court judge dismissed Maggio from the civil case last month, but not the other two defendants, saying Maggio had judicial immunity because he was acting in his official capacity as a judge.

The Arkansas Supreme Court had removed Maggio from the Faulkner County Circuit Court in September after he admitted to posting details under a pseudonym about Theron's private adoption of her child on a Louisiana State University fan website. That order prevented him from holding any judicial office in Arkansas in the future.