• Misconduct charges filed against judge at center of DeKalb school scandal

    By: Richard Belcher

    Updated:

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - State authorities have filed six charges of judicial misconduct against a controversial DeKalb County Superior Court judge.

    Cynthia Becker retired Feb. 23, but the charges filed Monday by the Judicial Qualifications Commission will force her to defend herself at a formal trial or risk being sanctioned despite her retirement.

    Becker attracted the commission’s attention for her handling of two cases emerging from a scandal inside the DeKalb School System’s massive construction program.

    Four of the six counts against her arise from the plea bargain for former DeKalb Superintendent Dr. Crawford Lewis and the trial and conviction of Pat Reid and Tony Pope.

    Reid was a senior school official who oversaw the district’s SPLOST construction program. Pope is an architect doing business with the district and was Reid's husband at the time.

    The JQC accuses Becker of misconduct for failing to follow a plea agreement between Lewis and DeKalb County prosecutors and for refusing to allow Lewis to withdraw his guilty plea once he learned that Becker intended to sentence him to a year in jail.

    The commission also says Becker illegally held Lewis in the DeKalb jail for four days because she refused to allow him to post bond.

    The commission also contends that Becker improperly communicated with the attorneys for Pat Reid and Tony Pope without the knowledge of prosecutors and improperly defended her handling of the Lewis case in public while the case was still pending and made false and misleading statements when the commission questioned her on a range of matters last year.

    Two other charges accuse Becker of failing to carry out her required judicial duties in relation to the DeKalb County grand jury.
    Becker’s office says she retired effective Feb. 23.

    Her office tells Channel 2 Action News investigative reporter Richard Belcher that she did not leave a forwarding telephone number or email address.

    It’s not clear when the JQC will schedule a trial for the retired judge, if she chooses to contest the charges.


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