• Complaints allege judge's delay in trying cases endangers community

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    CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News is digging into complaints against a local judge.

    Two defendants previously scheduled to appear in Judge Michael Garrett courtroom on family violence cases were later accused of murder.

    There are now questions about what role, if any, the Clayton County state court judge played in the process.

    "It is ludicrous to think that because a case is pending in his court that he would be responsible for a murder," Garrett's attorney, Jackie Patterson, said.

    But a Judicial Qualifications Commission memo dated Oct. 15, 2018, describes complaints filed against Garrett.

    One section says, "Judge Garrett's delay in trying criminal cases endangers the local community. Since these complaints were filed, two defendants, who had family violence cases pending before Judge Garrett, have been charged with murdering the victim of their pending case."


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    One of the murders occurred on Sept. 26, 2018.

    Records indicate Jermaine Jones had been arraigned July 20, 2017, roughly 14 months before the murder, for battery family violence and similar charges.

    Veteran defense attorney John Turner says he represented Jones in his misdemeanor family violence case before Garrett.

    "His position was not guilty," Turner said. 

    The JQC memo indicates the case before Garrett was "on trial calendars for January 8, 2018 and March 12, 2018 but was never called for trial. Following these complaints, Garrett moved that case to his upcoming October 8, 2018 calendar."

    Records show Jones has pleaded not guilty to murder.

    The JQC memo says "this sad event is a grave consequence of Judge Garrett's dilatory practices."

    "By the way, the bond was not granted by Judge Garrett," Patterson said.     

    Patterson said there are many legitimate reasons a case could be delayed.

    "Continuances take place all the time," Jones said.

    The JQC memo indicates Garrett had more than 496 open criminal cases, more than double any other Clayton state court judge.

    Garrett's JQC response said he had provided "months upon months of case statistics reports done by the clerk of state court that reflect that my case closure rate is identical to the other judges."

    Garrett's response said the complaints should be dismissed. "There has been no willful misconduct in office."

    Patterson said Garrett would love to talk to Channel 2 Action News if he didn't have complaints pending. 

    The judge allowed Channel 2 to shoot video of him, and he signed a waiver for us to get recordings of him from the JQC.

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