According to a press release provided by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, Sharp County District Court Judge Mark Johnson was given a letter of admonishment on March 19 regarding a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
The letter states, "While serving as the District Court Judge in Sharp County, you are responsible for a docket that includes criminal and traffic offenses. It was determined that you presided over a dismissal of a D.W.I. charge against a relative. The case was dismissed after it was determined and agreed that the State could not prove the charge. The relative was within the third degree of relation to you and was a party to the action. Therefore, you should have recused persuant to Canon 2.11 (A)(2)(a). While you have stated and others have confirmed that the defendant received no preferential treatment, your actions did not avoid the appearance of impropriety and promote public confidence in the Judiciary as required by Canon 1.2."
The letter went on to state that Johnson agrees that he violated the provisons listed and further admitted he should have recused from the case to preserve public confidence. Johnson also agreed to in future cases review his docket more carefully to avoid conflicts such as this.
The public admonishment for the offense was the only action taken by the commission.
The letter went on to say if there were further offenses, disciplinary actions could occur.
The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission is a state governed, nine member commission who sets in place a set of checks and balances to insure both judges and attorneys act according to high ethical standards.
The Commission acts on matters such as allegations of judicial misconduct; allegations of physical or mental disability of judges requiring leave or involuntary retirement; and matters of voluntary retirement or leave for disability.