Judging the Judges
Hosted by the American Constitution Society - Georgia Law Chapter
A Panel Discussion about the Proposed Amendment to the Georgia Constitution Concerning the Judicial Qualifications Commission
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 6:00pm to 7:30pm at the Phillip Rush Center
Video by Jan Horne, Red Kudzu
There is no doubt that allegations of wrongdoing by judges need to be addressed. Each of the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, has a judicial disciplinary commission, board or office for acting on complaints of misconduct against judges. But how are members of these commissions appointed? In other words, who judges the judges?
Not long ago Georgia's Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) was attracting national recognition for its swift action in securing the resignations of dozens of judges who had strayed. This included a judge who had an affair with a public defender, a judge who indefinitely locked up drug-court participants and a magistrate judge who orchestrated a plot to plant drugs on a woman who had publicly accused him of propositioning her.
But in recent months the JQC has weathered one controversy after another. Personnel have come and gone. The judge who until recently chaired the commission was enmeshed in a highly public controversy of her own for initiating a criminal indictment against a Fannin County newspaper publisher and his attorney who were seeking access to public records concerning her court.
These controversies did not escape the attention of the General Assembly which took action.
This November, Georgia voters will be asked to consider a constitutional amendment to abolish and remake the seven-member commission. The amendment, if adopted, will take away the State Bar of Georgia’s influence over the JQC and give the Legislature more power.
Please join the ACS Georgia Lawyer Chapter as we consider whether the proposed constitutional amendment is an instance of "outside political forces trying to undermine the agency’s independence" or a legitimate attempt to fix an agency engulfed in turmoil.
- State Senator Josh McKoon (R-29), Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee
Lester Tate, Former Chairman, Judicial Qualifications Commission
Sara Totonchi, Executive Director, Southern Center for Human Rights
- Martha Dalton, Reporter, WABE 90.1
The panel's presentation will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
For questions the day of the event, please contact John Kraus at 404-323-4444