Ga. voters, don’t kill independent oversight of judges

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Former Superior Court Judge Amanda Williams of Glynn County was removed from the bench by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. (AP)

Until recently, Georgia had a productive and politically independent Judicial Qualifications Commission, just as outlined in the state constitution. Over an eight-year period, the commission had removed more than 60 judges from the bench for breach of ethics, abuse of power or other misconduct.

In Fayette County, a judge was removed after discovery of a long-term affair with a public defender. In Brunswick, a judge was removed on charges of nepotism and favoritism, and after nationally embarrassing revelations that she had sentenced drug-court defendants to indefinite imprisonment and solitary confinement. In Murray County, a magistrate was removed after he told a woman that he would trade a legal ruling for sexual favors, then arranged to plant drugs in the woman’s car to discredit her after she publicly complained.

It’s important to stress how important the commission can be. Judges wield enormous and largely unchallenged power within their courtrooms, and as in every other aspect of human life, unchecked power is a perpetual temptation.

In addition, judges in Georgia are typically deeply entwined in the power structure of their communities, alongside state legislators and other elected officials. In fact, judges are often former legislators themselves who get appointed to the bench by governors as a reward for good behavior. In that kind of incestuous situation, an independent watchdog agency insulated from political interference is an absolute necessity.

However, under a proposed amendment that will go before the voters in November, the current JQC would be abolished and replaced. It would no longer be independent, and the three commission members now appointed by the state bar would instead be appointed by the speaker of the House, the lieutenant governor and governor. A total of five of the seven members would be political appointees, compared to just two today.

One of the co-sponsors of that legislation is state Rep. Johnny Caldwell of Griffin, who was forced to resign as a judge by the JQC in 2010 after revelations that he had sexually harassed a female attorney appearing before him.

In addition, companion legislation would close all future commission proceedings to the public. The public would not be made aware that a complaint had been filed, and it would not have access to the evidence unless the judge in question was found guilty. Proponents claim the secrecy is needed to protect the reputations of judges who are innocent, yet that’s a special privilege not extended to defendants in any courtroom in the state.

In short, the proposed constitutional amendment would inject the heavy hand of politics into a process in which politics should play no role. Even before its adoption, the antagonism of the political establishment to the commission’s work had become so intense and intimidating that the commission’s chair resigned in April.

“I cannot in good conscience continue to participate in a charade that offers the promise of judicial integrity when, in truth, the actions of others have rendered the fulfillment of that promise an impossibility,” Lester Tate of Cartersville wrote in his resignation letter.

The voters of Georgia are now being asked to validate that charade by adopting the proposed amendment. They should reject it overwhelmingly.

Reader Comments 0

510 comments
Cara Turano
Cara Turano

Voters in GA need to remember to not simply vote "YES" all the way down a ballot for constitutional amendments but put thoughtful consideration into each one - granting judges this type of protection seems to fly in the face of the entire judicial process.

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

The amendment should fail. It's a bad plan. But like lawyer complaints, stories on this topic suggest the complaints against judges have always remained confidential until they've been vetted for merit. This is as it should be. But an independent vetting is important to the integrity of the process.

Otherwise, countless disgruntled litigants would have a forum to spew against the judge.

Do you think people who lose in court turn around and say, "oh, I was wrong?" No. Many likely respond in the same way a currently famous litigant does, - "It was rigged"

Pretty sure I would never convince journalists of this, but, in this age of internet trolls, purely open complaints would damage the confidence in the system.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

It was a good speech. And it's driving the conned absolutely kkkkkkkrazy!

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

Just learned neither Clinton nor Trump has any events today. For those with CDS or TDS, perhaps a recuperation day. Peace.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Donald Trump is good for a laugh if nothing else. He got me in tears laughing at his interview with Anderson tonight. Those hands though....

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

Hillary Clinton's speech earlier today on the Alt-Right

-

'Alt right'. Ugh.

gotalife
gotalife

Dear gop.


Install super delegates.


No more trumps.



_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

OK, I am leaving this time-suck but I will repost the statements of rimski once again before I leave for the sake of those that check in in the AM.

rimski being the poster that called me AH and said I was the stupidest poster ever.

_______________________________ 


Two days ago:

Are you that ignorant how business works.  No one invests their own money to run a business untill and unless it is a lemonade stand.  Geeez.


You don't know how business operates then.

You spew some garbage from what you hear from some friend or what not.  You have no idea how a business operates.

Today:

I never said that.  

What I said the business borrow a lot of money to run their operation.  Business men do not sink all their money to run a business.  They have to borrow money or get credit or tax breaks from government.




gotalife
gotalife

Comedians love trump.

The material writes itself and very funny.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Kimmel just came on and he is destroying Alex Jones and Infowars.  It seems that Alex Jones spent 7 minutes on TV ranting about how Hillary's "pickle opening" item with Kimmel a few days ago was staged and faked and Jones even went into an exhibition on how to open a pickle jar and how Hillary could not have done it that way.  WTF is the matter with these idiots? 

honested
honested

@PaulinNH 

Have that on over my shoulder...

It just dovetailed with this discussion wonderfully.

honested
honested

tiny dog,


Do the 'paulding insider polls' show President Clinton winning, like most of the other polls in Georgia?

honested
honested

@td1234 

Of course they can.

They will help her attain the historic 401 Electoral Vote Win!!!

honested
honested

chump exemplifies why we should have solid, ethical State Court and Superior Court Judges. 

They should be people who are not swayed by a handful of cash or a naked body....


OR


We end up with fools like chump running for President because they didn't go to jail when they should have or didn't pay sufficient restitution for stealing from employees/contractors/land owners.

honested
honested

@td1234 

They also had an equally funny one about ben carson a while back.

Why don't you find that one and post it.

honested
honested

@PaulinNH @CherokeeCounty @honested @td1234 

It reminds me of the husband of a co-worker of the ex-wife....

A man who during any unfortunate comingling could always be brought to a boil over the topic of evolution.............."I didn't come from no monkey and that kind of talk makes me mad"...

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@CherokeeCounty  So - 2 guys having a domestic dispute - with one of them walking away a couple of times - becomes "Black Man Horrifically Beats White Woman"

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Now here's a completely incoherent campaign.  The candidate saying one thing and the campaign manager saying the opposite.  Can any of the RWers on the blog explain what Trump's policy is on immigrants? 

------------------


  • Trump told host Anderson Cooper that the “softening” of his immigration plan does not include a path to legalization - “unless people leave the country” and pay back taxes. “No, there’s not a path to legalization unless people leave the country,” Trump told Cooper, in remarks set to air at 8pm ET. “If they come back in and then they have to start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and come back.”
  • Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN on Tuesday that there would be no “touchback” policy in Trump’s future - that is, undocumented immigrants leaving the country for their nation of origin before entering the United States legally.
  • honested
    honested

    @PaulinNH 

    Is it possible to pay any self-respecting individual enough to be part of that nonsense?

    td1234
    td1234

    "In May 2008, Clinton told the USA Today that while Obama was leading the delegate race, she still had a broader political base. Unfortunately, she made that claim in explicitly racial terms, citingan Associated Press poll “that found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”

    BuckeyeGa
    BuckeyeGa

    @td1234

    Clinton cited an Associated Press poll "that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

    "There's a pattern emerging here," she said

    honested
    honested

    @td1234 

    That's nice.

    Beginning in November and probably for the Next 8 Years, She will probably be President of the United States....

    Deal With It.

    td1234
    td1234

    "While serving in the US Senate, Hillary tried to make a joke that disparaged a civil rights icon and demeaned all people from India. “I love this quote. It’s from Mahatma Gandhi. He ran a gas station down in St. Louis for a couple of years. Mr. Gandhi, do you still go to the gas station?” asked Clinton.:

    honested
    honested

    @td1234 

    While serving in the US Senate, jessie helms suggested it was moral to use nuclear weapons against perceived 'enemies'....

    That's when I new I could never take a conserrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrvative seriously.

    td1234
    td1234

    "Also during the 2008 presidential race, Hillary’s husband Bill said this of Obama: “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”

    StraightNoChaser
    StraightNoChaser

    @td1234 Sounds like your type of guy.  Someone you could pal around with BreitBARF reader.

    td1234
    td1234

    @StraightNoChaser @td1234 And you are out here defending his and Hillary's statements every single day and will be casting a vote for them in Nov. 


    Hypocrite. 

    StraightNoChaser
    StraightNoChaser

    @td1234 @StraightNoChaser 

    In that speech, I was talking about the impact violent crime and vicious drug cartels were having on communities across the country and the particular danger they posed to children and families. Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.

    ~~~Hillary Clinton


    Her comment is acceptable. Trump on the other hand has never specially apologized for anything.  He just keeps on passing gas and moving.

    td1234
    td1234

    @StraightNoChaser Sure make excuses for her comments that you hold Republicans to different standards. 


    Hypocrite. LMAO

    td1234
    td1234

    @StraightNoChaser So I could call you the Nword but as long as I apologized then I would not be considered a racist. 


    LMFAO

    honested
    honested

    @td1234 @StraightNoChaser 

    No reason to make any excuses...

    I'm just glad she has the collective conserrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrvative panties in a giant wad.......

    And that she will be President.