LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) -A longtime district judge in Northeast Arkansas voluntarily resigned after an investigation by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission found that he violated the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct involving criminal cases, officials said Friday.
Randolph County District Judge John Throesch, who has served as district judge since 2001, was also permanently disqualified from holding further judicial office.
According to a eight-page document from the commission, obtained by Region 8 News, officials began investigating Throesch after a complaint was filed by Executive Director David J. Sachar in Sept. 2018.
The investigation, according to the documents, centered around communications Throesch had with a defendant, called “DEF A.”
“In 2018, you engaged in ex parte Facebook Messenger and telephonic communication with a female District Court defendant, hereinafter referred to as ‘DEF A’. The JDDC obtained records that show you were communicating on a personal level with DEF A starting on or about April 14, 2018. During your online chat communications, DEF A revealed to you on June 4, 2018 that she was facing charges in your court, as well as a potential revocation in Circuit Court. She was scheduled to appear in your court July 11, 2018,” the complaint noted.
Officials said in the complaint that Throesch did not recuse himself and that the defendant appeared in court July 11.
“At that time, you recused, and the case was set for a conflict docket to be heard by a special judge. Your communications with DEF A indicate that you should have recused and/or disclosed the contact sooner than you did,” the complaint noted.
Officials also said in the complaint that the communications with the defendant continued and got personal.
“Communications with DEF A progressed over time from friendly to flirty and finally, after you recused, to sexual in nature. After recusal, you sent communications that indicated you would help DEF A with her charges,” officials said.
Throesch also sent Facebook Messenger messages to DEF A, offering to help with traffic citations and fines, and later contacted her. However, the complaint does not allege, or that there is evidence, that Throesch actually influenced the outcome of DEF A’s traffic citations, fines or other charges; or that he met with DEF A.
“On July 27, 2018, you asked DEF A to call your cell phone number to communicate. While exchanging text messages with DEF A, you received explicit photographs from DEF A to your cell phone. Your text communications went on to request additional photographs of the same nature,” the complaint noted.
In the complaint, there was also an allegation involving Throesch’s wife being cited for a traffic offense in Sept. 2017.
“After your wife was ticketed, you contacted both the Mayor and Chief of Police. You called the Mayor and indicated that the police department was out of control. When you called the Chief of Police, you broached the topic of 'professional courtesy related to your wife’s traffic offense and interaction with the police. You used unprofessional language and exhibited behavior unbecoming to the robe. While your behavior was off-the-record when talking to or about the police department, it was nonetheless a violation of the Code,” the complaint noted.
In the letter, officials said the actions of Throesch were unbecoming.
“The totality of your conduct referenced in the paragraphs below exhibited a disregard for the law, failure to promote confidence and uphold the integrity of the judiciary and personal behavior that undermined the integrity of the office of District Judge. Your willingness to resign your public office and render yourself permanently ineligible to serve in the judiciary ended this case before a final hearing. You have also cited some family health concerns and other personal matters as additional factors in your decision to resign at this time rather than defend yourself against the allegations,” the complaint noted. “You could have contested those allegations and availed yourself of all defenses during a formal disciplinary hearing. You cooperated with the investigation and chose to resign in lieu of contesting the allegations at a hearing.”