Jonesboro attorney who threatened 2 federal judges released on bond

FILE — U.S. District Court in Little Rock is shown in this file photo.
FILE — U.S. District Court in Little Rock is shown in this file photo.

A Jonesboro attorney accused of threatening to kill two federal judges was released on bond Wednesday by a federal magistrate judge who approved a release plan naming his mother as third-party custodian to be responsible for reporting any violations of his release to the federal pre-trial services office.

Donald Ryan Mullenix, 35, was charged by criminal complaint last November with issuing threats against Chief U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. and U.S. District Judge Brian Miller and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation Nov. 9, 2022, after an initial appearance on the charges before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe.

The next month, a federal grand jury in Little Rock indicted Mullenix on two counts of threatening members of the federal judiciary, for which he could be sentenced to 10 years in prison on each count if convicted. Mullenix is accused of sending threatening emails to various people at the state and federal levels beginning in April 2022 and continuing until early the following November.

Volpe agreed Wednesday to release Mullenix to home detention after approving a release plan submitted naming Karen Mullenix, his mother, as third party custodian charged with the responsibility of ensuring Mullenix appears at all court hearings and any other appointments authorized by the pre-trial services office.

Volpe ordered Mullenix to avoid contact with anyone associated with the case against him, to obtain mental health treatment, submit to location monitoring and to avoid use of alcohol. He warned Mullenix that violations of the terms of his release could result in Mullenix's release being revoked and ordered to be remanded into custody for the duration of his case, in addition to the possibility of additional sanctions, including prison.

According to court records, Mullenix filed a lawsuit against the Jonesboro Police Department on Nov. 3, 2021, alleging that police violated his civil rights when they responded to a call of a welfare check at his Jonesboro home three years earlier on Nov. 7, 2018. In his complaint, Mullenix said officers responding to the call had engaged in criminal behavior after turning off their body cameras and had escalated the situation to the point where Mullenix said that he feared he would be injured or killed.

Mullenix was criminally charged a week after the incident with assaulting an officer and terroristic threatening and surrendered to U.S. marshals on Nov. 28, 2018, according to Jonesboro District Court records. Records showed that the charges were dismissed in August 2020.

Mullenix's civil case against the Jonesboro Police Department was first assigned to U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky, who recused himself in April 2022, at which time it was reassigned to Miller, according to the court docket. Information contained in the criminal complaint against Mullenix indicated Marshall also had recused because of a long-term association with Mullenix, who had worked with Marshall on two books.

In May 2022, Miller granted a motion by the Sutter & Gillham law firm in Little Rock to be removed from the case as Mullenix's representation and in October 2022 granted a motion to dismiss the case by attorneys for the Jonesboro Police Department alleging that Mullenix had refused to comply with discovery in the case.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 30, 2022, Miller reported a threatening email reportedly sent to him by Mullenix accusing Miller of collaborating with Little Rock attorney Luther Sutter to let Sutter off the case. The remainder of the email, which was laced with insults and profanity, accused a number of judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys of covering up unspecified crimes.

In one email Mullenix wrote to Miller, he said, "If you dismiss my case without appointing me an attorney, you'll f*****g pay the way opposing counsel will. With their life."

Mullenix is represented by Chris Baker and Bill James of the James Law Firm in Little Rock. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Achorn, an attorney with the Western District of Arkansas, is prosecuting the case.

Mullenix is scheduled to go to trial June 20 before U.S. District Judge James M. Moody Jr., although that trial date is likely to be continued.

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