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Monday, December 10, 2012 - 1:17am

Judge Misconduct A Growing Focus

A Sumter County State Judge quit recently amid an investigation into misappropriated funds. He was the sixth Georgia judge to step down this year to avoid misconduct hearings before the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission. Another is due for a hearing this month.

The uptick in Georgia mirrors a national trend, said David Oedel, a Mercer University law professor.

“There has been a real uptick in this in states like California and New York and Georgia,” he said.

“What we’ve seen is, for instance, the funding that’s gone to the JQC in the last two years has increased by over 100 percent.”

Oedel said that’s a factor of growing public demand for judicial accountability. He said the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s director, Jeffrey Davis, has been aggressive in pursuing cases.

“Is [the increasing number of cases] because there is a real, extra-special problem here in Georgia? Or it is because it’s been under wraps for so long? Because we have somebody new like Jeff Davis? There’s more money going into the process? Probably a number of factors are involved,” Oedel said.

Seven judges quit during 2010 and 2011, according to JQC records. The state Supreme Court removed two others.