ATLANTA — Georgia's judicial watchdog agency has filed nine ethics charges against a controversial Atlanta judge.
Nearly all of the charges involve Judge Terinee Gundy's erratic attendance at municipal court, a pattern first documented by Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher.
Belcher was the first to report what was widely discussed at Atlanta’s municipal court and even City Hall, that Gundy was often late for court or outright absent.
The state Judicial Qualifications Commission has now concluded that was her pattern, that she tried to obscure her actions and that she lied when the commission questioned her.
Former-Mayor Kasim Reed appointed Gundy to the bench in 2013.
By the time we started investigating her early last year, the JQC had opened its own investigation, which we confirmed in an interview with the former chief public defender, Rosalie Joy.
“I am aware that there is a JQC investigation. I am not at liberty to discuss whether I have been interviewed by the JQC,” Joy told Belcher in an interview last July.
Channel 2 Action News was there weeks later when Gundy and her attorney attended a closed-door session of the JQC in which she was given an opportunity to explain her behavior.
The charges filed on Wednesday reveal that the commission came away convinced that Gundy lied that day about records related to her absences from court.
The JQC apparently approved the charges filed Wednesday in a closed-door session last week.
Gundy is charged with nine counts of alleged misconduct including willful and persistent arrival at court after the time court was scheduled to begin, causing the removal of audiovisual systems to conceal her tardiness, willful and persistent absenteeism from court, directing an employee to stop producing court calendars so as to conceal her absenteeism and threatening to terminate a security officer if he failed to secure seats for her and her family at Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' inauguration.
Gundy's tardiness or absences had a direct effect on mostly poor defendants, according to Mary Hooks with the advocacy group Southerners on New Ground.
"I mean, it's real simple. People have to go back to the cage until they have another court," Hooks said.
Gundy will have the opportunity to defend herself before a separate panel from the one that brought the charges.
Richard Hyde, the vice chairman of the JQC, sent a statement that says, in part, “The charges filed allege various acts of misconduct by Judge Gundy and speak for themselves.”
Belcher contacted Gundy’s who said he had no comment on this story.
Gundy currently makes $182,000 a year.
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