In what appears the first time that an Arkansas Supreme Court justice has been reprimanded, the Court sanctioned Justice Jim Gunter for hitting and shoving his sister of hitting and shoving at his father’s home in September 2007 in Hope, Arkansas.
In a statement released by the disciplinary commission, Gunter has acknowledged “inappropriate” conduct in the incident “and now apologizes to the public, with the assurances that such conduct will never occur again.”
Gunter reportedly became angry with Janet Gibson after they argued over certain genealogical papers that belonged to him. Gibson apparently refused to return the papers until she was done with them and, the police report stated, Gunter began “screaming at her about bothering his stuff. He then allegedly backhanded her in the mouth. She claimed to have been knocked into a dresser and shoved to the floor.
When police arrived, Gibson had a swollen lip and bruised hip.
The sister declined to press charges and Special Prosecutor Larry Jegley used that as a reason not to charge the Supreme Court justice. Frankly, with clear bruises on a victim, I doubt that many prosecutors would have dropped the charges if the alleged attacked was simply (as here) claiming that the victim “provoked” him.
Jegley adopted a remarkably benign attitude to the battery, insisting that “was just a bad situation all the way around, and I’m sure that Judge Gunter has learned from the experience and won’t have any problems in the future.”
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