Monday, August 23, 2010

Santa Claus Judge Resigns

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on the recent resignation of a Superior Court judge in the wake of allegations of misconduct toward county employees:

According to their statement, the women said that they stopped by the judge's office Aug. 4 to bid him goodbye after learning they had been reassigned to another courtroom. The judge wanted to take some photographs and suggested the pair sit on his knee "just like he does to other female attorneys every Christmas when he is wearing his Santa Claus suit," they said.

The women said they were reluctant to do so, but it would have been awkward to say "no" to the 70-year-old man they described as a "grandfatherly figure."

"What happened later was a crime when he inappropriately touched us," the statement said. "What occurred was more serious than was reported."

The women said they decided not to speak out or take legal action because of their experience that the victim often becomes the target of criticism in sex crimes.

The incident came to light anyway after [the judge] made an admission to the Daily Journal. As a result, [the judge] submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Sonny Perdue Tuesday. He will step down on his 71st birthday Oct. 4. His term was set to expire in 2012.

Tom Cauthorn, an attorney for [the judge], said Thursday that the judge does not want comment further on the matter.

It's not known if [the judge's] behavior is under investigation. The Judicial Qualifications Commission, the state agency that investigates misconduct involving judges, keeps all complaints confidential until they are resolved or closed.

Additional details from the same source:

The judge admitted to the Marietta Daily Journal that he "flicked" the bottoms of [an] Assistant District Attorney...and [a] Deputy Investigator... after the women sat on his lap to take a picture.

"If the ladies took it as offensive, then I apologize to them," [The judge] told the Daily Journal. "I do not think it was any more than that to it. There was no intent on my part. It was done in a place where several people were around. But rather than cause my family the embarrassment and go through a claims or whatever, I was willing to retire and wrote a letter of retirement to the governor."

(Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink

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