LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the law license of a former Jefferson County circuit judge convicted of misdemeanor charges and felony tax evasion.
The Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct had recommended that former Circuit Judge Fred Davis III be disbarred, but a special judge, after a hearing, recommended Davis be sanctioned and reprimanded.
The high court on Thursday suspended Davis’ law license for five years.
In June, 2004, Davis, who at the time had been a circuit judge for 16 years, was stopped in Hot Springs on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor. During that stop, officers noticed a dealer plate on his 2002 Avalanche. The vehicle had not been registered since the year of its purchase.
Davis, was convicted later in 2004 of misdemeanor DWI and received a one-year suspended sentence.
In 2005 he was convicted of felony tax evasion after earlier being charged with failure to register a vehicle and unlawful use of dealer tags, both misdemeanors. He was later given a three-year suspended sentence and resigned from the bench.
The conviction was later upheld by the state Court of Appeals.
The state Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct later investigated and recommended that Davis be disbarred but Special Judge Graham Partlow recommended Davis be sanctioned and reprimanded.
In a 12-page opinion Thursday, Justice Donald Corbin said the high court agreed with the special judge’s “analysis and the implication that disbarment is not warranted” but could not agree “with his recommendation that the record before us demonstrates the ‘very limited circumstances’ in which there are clear and compelling grounds to justify a reprimand as an appropriate sanction for serious misconduct.
“We are troubled by a lack of remorse on (Davis’) part for the damage to the legal profession that his serious misconduct has caused,” Corbin wrote. “We are furthermore troubled by the presence of an aggravated factor not discussed by the special judge — (Davis’) refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct.”
The opinion said Davis “persists in maintaining the position that his conduct amounted to nothing more than procrastination and inattention to his personal business matters.”