BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Benton County District II Circuit Court Judge Brad Karren resigned of his own volition on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, as administrative judge for Benton County.
KNWA/FOX24 confirmed the resignation by Karren’s attorney Mark Henry. Henry emailed the letter sent to Arkansas Supreme Court Justice John “Dan” Kemp.
Good evening Chief Justice Kemp,Judge Brad Karren
I was unanimously elected by my colleagues this year by secret ballot and pursuant to Administrative Order 14 to serve as Administrative Judge for the Nineteenth Judicial District, Western Division. While this election was of course a compliment and vote of confidence by my colleagues, I nonetheless believe it is reasonable for me to vacate the Administrative Law Judge position.
I do so because there is a pending investigation instituted by the Judicial Discipline and Disability involving my exchange with Attorney Davy Carter, which received publicity, both in the press and on Attorney Carter’s social media account. My decision to vacate my title as Administrative Judge is, in my belief, a reasonable step to preserve the public’s confidence in the integrity of our judiciary. Doing this will allow me time to continue with the criminal docket which has resumed jury trials this month.
I take very seriously my confidentiality obligations flowing from all JDDC investigations, so I will not address the specifics of the allegations or my perspective in this email to you. Also, with this email, I am copying all other judges in my division to enable them to begin to take steps to elect a replacement judge for the remainder of my two-year term pursuant to Order 14 (2)(a).
I hope you and your family are well, and I thank you for your time this evening.
Earlier this month, Karren was in a verbal altercation with a person over a reserved parking space at the courthouse. His actions, on the evening of May 1, were the reason the state’s Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission (JDDC) opened an investigation.
Karren has been reprimanded by the JDDC twice before.
Currently, the JDDC is currently investigating about a dozen cases, and review approximately 250 cases a year, said JDDC Executive Director David Sachar.
Benton County Division III Circuit Court Judge Tom Smith will be Karren’s replacement.
Attorney Mark Henry submitted a statement from Judge Karren
Judge Karren respects that the conduct of judges should inspire public confidence in their integrity and competence.Statement from Judge Brad Karren, received by Karren’s attorney Mark Henry.
This week, the Arkansas Judicial Disability and Discipline Commission (JDDC) provided to Judge Karren a short complaint setting forth Arkansas licensed attorney Davy Carter’s tweets. Judge Karren will respond to the JDDC Complaint and provide his perspective on the events described by Attorney Carter.
The citizens of Benton County understand Judge Karren presides over a criminal docket, including capital murder trials. Judge Karren has been the target of credible death threats, and people have been jailed for soliciting his murder. It is therefore logical the entrance used by judges to a courthouse would have a 24/7 parking safety restriction. The 24/7 towing signs are posted over each specific parking space.
After Attorney Carter’s social media was posted, Judge Karren, unfortunately, received an additional death threat which was investigated by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. The safety and security of all judges in Arkansas is and should remain a significant concern.
A good judge listens to both sides before making a decision. Likewise, the very purpose of Arkansas’ JDDC is to review all facts surrounding this situation. Judge Karren will respond to the complaint to present his understanding of the events.
In the interim, Judge Karren is taking steps to ensure the public’s continued confidence in the judiciary.