BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) —On January 21, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission (JDDC) announced that a Letter of Censure has been issued to Judge Brad Karren of the 19th West Judicial Circuit, Division 2.

The censure follows a heated verbal exchange involving Judge Karren that happened in the Benton County-owned court parking lot in April 2021.

The letter explains that the confrontation involved Judge Karren and three other individuals, and arose after one of them parked in a spot reserved for the judge. In the document from the commission, Karren’s actions at the time are described as inappropriate and avoidable.

Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren | Courtesy Photo

A man involved in the encounter described Judge Karren as “rabid” in a social media post, and explained that he saw “a very angry man with a gun on his hip and a cane berating my son and wife.”

The letter explains that Judge Karren was accompanied by a bailiff and that “at one point the judge throws his cane as if to clear his hands and adopts an aggressive stance.”

He resigned as the Benton County judge administrator after the incident. He is still a Benton County judge and is presiding over multiple high-profile cases, including one involving the killing of a Pea Ridge police officer.

In a response letter, Judge Karren accepted full responsibility for the incident.

Without question, I accept full responsibility and public censure today. I know that integrity, independence, and impartiality are key prerequisites for an effective and functional judiciary and judicial system.

Judge Brad Karren

Multiple attorneys co-signed Judge Karren’s response letter and attested to his remorse and regret regarding the encounter, as well as his fairness in the courtroom.

An agreement between Judge Karen and the JDDC included several remedial measures:

  • Judge Karren “proactively enrolled and attended the class on ‘Mindfulness for Judges’ through the National Judicial College. This was a four day, recommended class.
  • The judge submitted proof of participation in professional counseling offered through the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program and agreed to continue meetings until he and the counselor both agree the sessions are no longer needed.
  • Judge Karren read and reviewed a report on bullying and sexual harrassment, and is expected to understand the “issues, standards and examples of bullying in the legal profession.”
  • An agreement by the judge to have no more complaints resulting in a finding of probable cause leading to public charges or discipline.
  • Officially reiterating his apology to those involved and to the public for his actions that “reflected poorly on the judiciary.”

Judge Karren was previously sanctioned in 2012 after speaking to the parents of a juvenile in custody without having a prosecutor present and without notifying the prosecutor’s office. He issued the parents a visitation order that he admitted “did not follow the standard juvenile detention policy.”

He told a witness that all he was trying to do was “help the mother out.” The juvenile refused to meet with his family and the visitation did not occur that day.

Judge Karren was elected to his position in 2012 and re-elected in 2014 and 2020. His current term is set to expire on December 31, 2026.