A judicial ethics panel has publicly sanctioned a Sebastian County circuit judge for invoking her judicial office in a personal dispute.
The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on Friday sent a "letter of informal adjustment" to Judge Annie Powell Hendricks regarding an incident that occurred April 16. It did not impose or recommend any punishment beyond sending the letter.
According to the letter, Hendricks was sanctioned over text messages she sent to Terry Weidman of Fort Smith, the ex-husband of Hendricks’ stepsister, Lynn Weidman. The Weidmans were involved in a dispute over information contained on an iPad.
Identifying herself in a text as "Judge Hendricks," the judge told Terry Weidman to deliver his ex-wife’s iPad to a third party’s mailbox by 9:30 a.m. and said she would turn the matter over to the prosecutor if he did not comply.
After Weidman asked what the judge would turn it over to the prosecutor for, Hendricks texted, "Choose your actions wisely!"
The commission said in its letter that Hendricks violated rules of conduct that require judges to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary, prohibit judges from abusing the prestige of their office and prohibit judges from engaging in "conduct that would appear to a reasonable person to be coercive."
The panel said it did not recommend more serious action because Hendricks admitted that she should not have referred to herself as a judge during the exchange and promised to avoid such behavior in the future.
Hendricks did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.