POPE COUNTY, Ark. – A Pope County judge that state judicial officials started investigating again for alleged inappropriate behavior in court announced he is retiring from the bench.

In a letter sent in December to the state Administrative Office of the Courts, Judge Don Bourne said he would “submit a notice of retirement” to the governor’s office to be effective January 7.

Bourne has been the subject of months of reports from the Working4You team for his behavior in court, including an investigation that showed Bourne only appointed public defenders 48 times in a span between 2012 and 2020.

He also faced criticism from officials for how he treated defendants in his court.

He had been sanctioned by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, which issued a letter of censure and a 15-day suspension without pay.

Even after those sanctions, though, new issues came up against Bourne, some less than a week after he returned to the bench.

“We had complaints that were open within four days of his return from suspension about discourteous behavior,” JDDC Executive Director David Sachar told KARK 4 News.

In a release Tuesday, the JDDC said Bourne’s retirement would make the new investigations started since his original sanctioning moot and that the new charges would be formally dismissed when the commission meets later in January.

At the end of the day, however it happens, Sachar said Boune’s time as a judge was done.

“Retirement, resignation, vacation of office, it doesn’t really matter. He has agreed to not be on the bench.”