Arkansas Judiciary 101: Circuit Court Judges (History)
The following candidates have made unsuccessful election bids in the recent past in Faulkner County.
The appointed incumbent in 2014 in Division 5, Judge Amy Brazil was Prosecuting Attorney H.G. Foster’s law clerk while she was in law school, and had a private law practice before serving as Circuit Judge.
First appointed by Governor Mike Beebe to fill the term of her uncle, Judge Russell “Jack” Roberts, when he died in 2010, Brazil lost the primary for the new 9th District Court seat to Susan Weaver in May 2012.
When Judge Rhonda Wood vacated the Circuit Division 5 seat after being elected to the Court of Appeals, Brazil applied for that spot and Governor Beebe appointed her in January 2013. That term expired in 2014, and Judge Mike Murphy defeated her that year for the Circuit Division 1 seat.
Angela Byrd, wife of former Faulkner County Sheriff Karl Byrd, worked for a couple of years as deputy prosecuting attorney for Prosecuting Attorney H.G. Foster starting in 1992. She also has a general private law practice and has focused some of her practice on child abuse crimes.
Byrd worked as deputy prosecuting attorney in the 20th Judicial District against in 2000, returning to her private practice in 2011. She was defeated in 2014 by Judge David Clark for Circuit Division 4.
A graduate of Vilonia High School, Dora Lee Chandler was an associate with a Little Rock law firm when she ran in 2014 for District 5, which has historically focused on children’s issues. Judge H.G. Foster defeated her that year for Circuit Division 5.
Mike Maggio, who pled guilty to bribery charges in January 2015, was Division 2 Judge until 2014. Maggio had a private practice from 1990 to 2001; served as a deputy prosecutor, a small claims judge, and a special municipal judge; and was appointed by then Governor Mike Huckabee to the Circuit court Division 2 bench in January 2001. Maggio was removed from office in 2014.
Maggio had announced a 2014 run for the Arkansas Court of Appeals — a seat then held by Bill Walmsley, an appointed judge who couldn’t run for the seat. However, in March that year he admitted posting inappropriate remarks under a pseudonym on his college blog, which triggered a Judicial Discipline and Disability Committee investigation and his withdrawal from that race.
In addition, his campaign finance reports in the Court of Appeals race showed he had received several contributions from the nursing home owner and defendant in a 2013 nursing home death case in his court. In July 2013, just days after the campaign received the funds, Maggio reduced the jury’s award in the case from $5.2 to $1 million upon the defendant’s motion. Maggio pleaded guilty to bribery in January 2015 and is currently awaiting sentencing (October 2015).
Winningham was deputy prosecuting attorney under Prosecuting Attorney Marcus Vaden, and has also served as a defense attorney (representing clients such as former Faulkner County administrator T.J. Johnston) and being appointed by former County Judge Preston Scroggin as Faulkner County attorney.
Winningham has been a city prosecutor for Clinton and Marshall and also served as a special judge in both district and circuit court. He was defeated in 2014 by Troy Braswell for the Circuit Division 2 seat.