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Friday, October 06, 2006

Judicial High Jinks

I was watching CNN this morning, and caught an add for James Bodiford, Cobb County Superior Court Judge, in which he claims that he will "make sure that the guilty are held accountable". However, my last conversation with then Magistrate Bodiford - and in fact all of his behavior I have witnessed - most distinctly implies otherwise.

Perhaps what he meant to say was "I'll make sure that the guilty, unless they are associates, well-oiled or well connected, will be held accountable." In the tightly knit cabal of corruption known as the Cobb County Judicial Circuit, there is so much hand washing going on that it's hard to tell whose hand is in whose pocket. With a rich history of civil rights violations, lynchings, anti-Semitism, and cronyism, the Cobb judicial circuit steadfastly remains a backwards good ol' boy network.

As I recall, the last statement made to me by Bodiford was "You'd better have your I's dotted and your T's crossed" - as he turned crimson and slammed into his office, visibly shocking two other attorneys nearby. This was in response to a request for his deposition concerning a cover-up of repeated acts of arson which the fire department, DA, a Grand Jury, and many others believe were committed by the 21 year old son of one of his "associates", the local school board attorney, DA wanna be, and ex-associate of the Chief Superior Court Judge.

Previous encounters included holding a resident of Cobb in jail without bond for 16 days for crimes that investigators believed were committed by the aforesaid offspring, while at the same time giving ear to ex-parte accusations of bomb threats fabricated by the suspect's attorney father, revoking a bond that had been negotiated down from $10,000 to $8,000, holding the innocent party naked, chained, and in "the pad" while refusing all medical treatment for acute migraine headaches, requiring that the innocent party appear in Court hearings bound in chains, not allowing him to speak one word in his defense or in opposition to the criminal's ex-parte accusations (although this affair could have been circumvented with 10 minutes of dialog), concealing evidence from the defense which implicated the actual perpetrator, requiring that the innocent party report to pre-trial services for 6 months, even though the actual perpetrator was currently being investigated and was indicted 3 months later, and later, having the victim removed from his courtroom because he was sitting next to, and conversing with, a local newspaper reporter.

But even this behavior pales in comparison to P. Harris Hines, then a Superior Court Judge, and who now sits on the bench of the Supreme Court of Georgia along with another crony, George H. Carley. By dismissing both a criminal case AND a civil case against the actual arsonist - in the face of utterly condemning evidence of guilt for multiple acts of arson including a school, a grocery store, several cars, an apartment, and his own home - this hack has demonstrated his unworthiness to sit anywhere but a park bench.

Judicial Ethics is an utterly meaningless phrase in Cobb County, and for that matter, the bulk of Georgia's Judicial Circuit. Most who were involved but attempted to do the right thing were tossed out of their jobs or contracts with the county. No apologies, no explanations, and certainly no justice was ever forthcoming, and the victim was subsequently harassed, threatened, manipulated, burned out of his job, equipment, easily $5k in personal property, and then told he should leave Georgia in an attempt to conceal the sordid truth.

Now don't think that I am devoid of empathy for those who might stumble and fail to measure up in the reasonable social behavior department, but I also believe that the primary impetus for a Judge and his court should be the quest and revelation of Truth, and the dispensation of remedy to those who have been damaged by another's actions. Favoritism and subterfuge are not part of his authority.

As I've seen no evidence to the contrary, as far as I'm concerned they're just more damned ladder climbing Good Ol' Boys.

Perhaps the citizens of Cobb would be better served by Normarene Culver Merritt as Superior Court Judge.

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