ATLANTA - Supporters of an Atlanta judge who is facing a state ethics investigation are pushing back against a Channel 2 Action News investigation that was critical of the judge.
The supporters of Judge Terrinee Gundy told Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher that she is the victim of a vendetta.
We heard from the group called Atlanta Bailout Participants after we aired our story reporting that Gundy is being investigated by the state judicial qualifications commission.
They say Gundy is not the problem and was way ahead on an issue critical to a lot of poor defendants.
The group sent out a news release that included a picture of Gundy and what appeared to be at least five men who were probably defendants in her courtroom.
It said Gundy was the first judge to release a group of poor and homeless defendants on signature bonds, meaning they wouldn’t remain in jail because they didn't have cash to get out.
“If you can pay, you're out of there. If you can't pay, you sit in the jail,” said Sarah Geraghty, with the Southern Center for Human Rights.
The group is one of several organizations that pressed the city of Atlanta to make it easier for poor defendants charged with minor crimes to get out of jail without having to post bond.
Critics said cash bonds created a two-tiered system of justice: “One for people who are rich. One for people who don't have money,” Geraghty said.
Her supporters said Gundy took the lead on that issue even before the city made getting out without posting bond easier this year.
But critics are more skeptical of the judge.
Mary Hooks is with another advocacy group called Song. She complained about Gundy's work habits.
“Folks know Gundy to not show up, to postpone or to cancel court,” Hooks said.
Without citing Gundy by name, the former chief public defender in Atlanta Municipal Court, Rosalie Joy, told Belcher that harder work all around is in order.
“If cases require that judges need to stay on the bench long enough to ensure that everyone is afforded due process, then, yes, they need to work harder,” Joy said.
Geraghty told Belcher that her group is watching closely whether the court follows the new rules on bail.
“We're looking to ensure that it's actually being implemented,” she said.
Atlanta Bailout Participants declined Belcher’s request for an interview Wednesday.
Gundy's attorney did not respond to his emails.
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