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Floyd County’s chief magistrate latest to resign under a cloud
Chris Mathis, the elected chief magistrate of Floyd County, today queued up in the lengthening line of Georgia judges who have resigned while under investigation for misconduct.
As always, the state Judicial Qualifications Commission will not confirm that it was looking into Mathis’ conduct. But Floyd County DA Leigh Patterson told the Rome News-Tribune she had forwarded allegations about Mathis to the JQC and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Patterson would not disclose the nature of the allegations but said her office is reviewing the GBI’s investigative file to decide on possible criminal prosecution.
The magistrate’s letter today to Gov. “Sunny” Perdue states no reason for his resignation. However, he agreed never to seek or hold judicial office again, a promise that the JQC typically requests when a judge closes an investigation by resigning.
The magistrate court considers civil claims of up to $15,000, issues arrest warrants and eviction notices, and hears cases involving violations of county ordinances.
Mathis, chief magistrate since 2005, was re-elected without opposition in 2008. He is not a lawyer.
The JQC has been especially busy of late. Since December, judges who have resigned while under investigation for misconduct include:
- Superior Court Judge Harry Doss of the Appalachian Circuit, who remains under criminal investigation for possible financial misconduct
- Superior Court Judge Robert Johnston III of the Muscogee Circuit
- Superior Court Judge Bucky Woods of the Mountain Judicial Circuit, who allegedly contacted a female defendant in another court on Facebook and offered to help her
- Superior Court Judge Jim Cornwell, also of the Mountain Circuit, who wrapped his Chevy Trailblazer around a tree, left it burning by the side of the road and called police after it was too late to administer a blood-alcohol test
- Johnnie Caldwell Jr. of the Griffin Circuit, accused of making inappropriate comments to female lawyers
- Paschal English, also of the Griffin Circuit, now being investigated for possibly having an affair with a public defender working in his courtroom. English is the guy who got voted off the island on CBS-TV’s “Survivor” several years back.
In every case, the judges reportedly had just met with Richard Hyde, the JQC’s investigator. Right about now, that investigator dude’s gotta be feeling like Joe Btfsplk, the walking jinx in the Li’l Abner comic strip. (Note to readers under 40: In its day, it was funny. Trust me.)