BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Former Benton County Circuit Judge Jon Comstock, 72, was jailed on July 8 after disrupting a bond hearing at the Benton County Jail.
Comstock was seen gesturing outside a window into the courtroom and was called in by Judge Chris Griffin. Comstock then aggressively pointed at the judge as he continued speaking, and Griffin held Comstock in contempt of court and ordered him to serve a five-day sentence at the Benton County Jail, with four and a half days suspended.
The Order for Contempt filed with the court states that Comstock “willfully refused to comply with the Court’s lawful orders and that he was found in direct criminal contempt.”
Representatives from the Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition (AJRC) told KNWA/FOX24 that Comstock is a board member of their organization, and he had made it known in advance that he planned to attend the bond hearings. Comstock was taken to an area outside the court where he could see but not hear the proceedings.
“We should have full access, especially because we should understand how the people’s business is being done and how we’re jailing individuals,” said Sarah Moore of the AJRC.
The argument was reportedly also pertaining to a recent class-action lawsuit filed by a pair of Benton County jail inmates alleging that they were denied Constitutional rights when they attended pretrial bail hearings without counsel.
The suit requests a permanent injunction and declaratory judgment that indigent people must have appointed counsel present at such hearings, as well as legal costs and attorney’s fees associated with bringing the complaint to court. That complaint was filed in the Western District of Arkansas Federal Court in Fayetteville.
Comstock ran for a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2020 but lost in the general election. His term as a judge in the Nineteenth Circuit Court West expired in 2012. Before that, he worked as in-house counsel for Walmart for nearly 20 years.