In the past few years, seven chief Superior Court judges have stepped down while facing allegations of misconduct. And judges in Georgia continue to resign in greater numbers as a result of judicial investigations.
Judge John D. Allen, chair of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, says the number of complaints against judges has risen dramatically compared to last year.
“We have gotten over close to 600 complaints this fiscal year on judges. About a 35 to 40 percent increase if I’m not mistaken.”
He says the largest increase comes from judges reporting problems with others on the bench.
Randy Evans co-chairs the Judicial Nominating Commission, which makes recommendations to the Governor on who he should appoint to the bench. Evans says Governor Deal has had to appoint an unprecedented number of judges in just the past two years.
“By the end of June we’ll have 24 judgeships that will have been filled since Governor Deal became Governor and that number is expected to rise”
While some appointments are due to judges retiring, Evans says more are due to judges who step down following an investigation.
Both men say historically, judges in Georgia have been given a lot of deference and power, and that has often led to an abuse of that power.
They say judges are more focused on their responsibilities and that has helped lead the effort to get rid of any bad apples in the courtroom.