Georgia Judicial News: Judges Gone Wild Edition

I don’t want to bury the lead. So, here it is. There must be enough error out there in Georgia to win a slew of appeals. Georgia judges must be messing up on hearsay, the Fourth Amendment, and jury charges. All those things are hard. Many of them, so far this year, are messing up on more basic things such as — do keep your hands to yourself, do show up for work, don’t make Facebook friends with a woman you think is hot and offer advice on a case pending in your court, don’t go parking with a public defender assigned to your court, and don’t — well, don’t do any of that Johnnie Caldwell stuff. Seriously, if Georgia judges haven’t nailed down those basics, then it’s very likely that some good objections at trial will probably produce some reversible error at trial


A Recap of Today’s News

It’s a good thing no apartments caught on fire in Atlanta today, because tonight’s 6 o’clock news was all about judges. First, Judge Kenneth O. Nix, who had been a judge since 1982, abruptly resigned today in the wake of what he called a “misunderstanding.” A female ADA assigned to his courtroom and a female investigator posed for pictures in his lap and apparently became upset after he, in his own words “flicked them both on the fanny.”  The incident landed the Georgia judiciary back in the national news. The local broadcast media also covered the story. Judge Nix was apparently known to dress as Santa and have people sit in his lap.

Meanwhile, the local broadcast media covered the abrupt resignation of Fulton State Court Judge Albert Thompson after a local media outlet examined records that showed he only entered the courthouse 55 weekdays aout of a possible 147 weekdays that the courthouse was open. In a 30-week period, he spent about 43 minutes per week in the courthouse.


More Judges in the News

The governor announced his replacement for Paschal English and Johnnie Calwell. Speaking of Santa, Judge Caldwell apparently had a Santa complex also. Their replacements were announced today — Fayette County State Court Judge Fletcher Sams and Former GPDSC head Mack Crawford. Mr. Crawford’s nomination had moments of controversy when Stephen Bright, of the Southern Center for Human Rights wrote a letter to the Judicial Nominating Commission opposing him as judge (PDF). Of course, the abrupt resignation of Caldwell and English was news when it happened.  The announcement of their replacements was news today.


And There was the Facebook Judge

Remember Judge Ernest Woods a/k/a Bucky Woods who got the ball rolling back in January, 2010? Seems so long ago and so many judicial scandals back. He was the first Georgia judge to get zapped this year based upon some Facebook contact with a local hair stylist who had a case pending before him. Katheryn Hayes Tucker covered the story on way back then.


And My Point Is

The point of this story is not that Georgia has suddenly become a giant Scott Turow novel — though that point could be made and defended. My point is not that there is some sort of conspiracy afoot to put more Sonny Perdue appointees on the bench — though that does sound interesting.  The point is that if Georgia judges are messing up on the basics, then you’ll likely get some mistakes on the record if you just object more. Who knows, after all, what Santa might bring.


And the Box Score

Number of Chief Judges who Abruptly Resigned: 4

Number of Times Santa Claus was Referenced: 2

Number of Times “Some people claim[ed] there’s a woman to blame:”5

Number of Resignations letters referencing need to spend time with family 5

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