LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas judge is being held accountable by the Arkansas Supreme Court nearly a year after Working 4 You exposed a public defender issue in his courtroom.
The state’s highest court officially suspended Pope County District Court Judge Don Bourne without pay on Tuesday. Court filings reveal Bourne will spend his two-week suspension attending and observing other district court judges and must write a reflective report on each visit.
Bourne is required to install digital audio recorders in his courtroom that the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission can monitor. He has been ordered to attend a judicial ethics and an anti-bullying class.
The district court judge’s suspension will start next Tuesday, but his time on the bench is officially on a countdown timer. After his term expires at the end of 2024, he will never be allowed to be a judge in the State of Arkansas again.
Bourne, who has been on the bench since 2001, has been at the center of a year-long Working 4 You investigation after KARK 4 News uncovered records showing he rarely appointed the public defender and how he spoke to people in his courtroom.
Records revealed Bourne admited to talking down to people and not properly assessing if a public defender should be appointed.
This could be considered the first significant step by the Arkansas Supreme Court since Working 4 You started digging into Bourne last year.
The state’s highest court has not given a direction for people who believe they’ve been wrongfully denied counsel or if any changes will be made in how district courts operate in Arkansas.
Calls to Bourne have not been returned.