An Arkansas judge accused by a state panel of multiple disciplinary infractions, including sexual impropriety with defendants, was suspended on Thursday by the chief of the state Supreme Court.
The suspended judge, Joseph Boeckmann, 69, presides over a district court in Cross County, Arkansas, about 220 miles east of Little Rock near the Tennessee border.
“Judge Boeckmann will file a response and we will fight the allegations,” said the judge’s attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig of Little Rock
An investigation by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission made public on Nov. 17 revealed allegations that Boeckmann had used his office “to form personal and sexual relationships with certain litigants,” sometimes in exchange for reduced sentences and fines.
He is also suspected of spanking at least one defendant, both for his sexual pleasure and for punishment, a report from the investigation panel said. He photographed the defendant after the spanking.
The allegations of the judge’s sexual misconduct involved men, the report said.
Chief Justice Howard Brill of the Arkansas Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction over all lower state courts, said he would assign Boeckmann’s docket to other judges “to protect the integrity of the judicial system and to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice.”
Brill’s order prevents Boeckmann from presiding in any court pending resolution of the investigation.
The discipline commission’s report also alleges that Boeckmann provided money and gifts to some defendants with whom he was personally involved, one of whom helped remove sexually explicit material from the judge’s personal computer.
(Reporting by Steve Barnes; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Andrew Hay)