Backlog of Georgia judicial ethics cases finally being addressed

ATLANTA — The head of the state of Georgia’s judicial watchdog group says that the agency is now working through a backlog of ethics cases stretching back several years.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission is responsible for investigating ethics complaints against Georgia’s 1,800 judges.

For several years, the system for dealing with those complaints has been slowed by changes in the law and then the pandemic.

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JQC Director Chuck Boring told Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher that he began working on that backlog this week in a two-day hearing for Judge Eric Norris who is accused of berating a private citizen who criticized him on social media.

“The public wants finality on these complaints that we get. The judges deserve finality, so it is really good to kind of get the process moving a bit more,” Boring said.

Channel 2 Action News investigated another case in which the JQC filed charges back in 2019.

Judge Terrinee Gundy is accused of nine counts of ethical misconduct including persistent absenteeism and directing an employee to cover up her absences. She was scheduled for a court appearance last month, but as for a day.

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Boring says that judges typically want these matters resolved quickly.

“Usually as soon as possible. And then the other judges, as well in the judiciary, who may be impacted by the misconduct of other judges really, I’m sure would like to see resolution of these complaints,” Boring said.

Resolution comes partly from a three-person hearing panel, but there is no immediate resolution like in a jury trial.

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Boring says panel members will likely take weeks to write up their findings and legal reasoning, as well as their recommendations for disciplinary action.

“It’s not just like a criminal trial where you go in, and then try it to the jury, and then it goes up on appeal. It’s a whole different animal,” he said.

The Supreme Court of Georgia will have to approve any disciplinary actions.