What may be Georgia’s busiest ethics agency is also its smallest. In July, it may get even smaller. With the tiniest of budgets, the Judicial Qualifications Commission makes ends meet by not paying its investigator and lawyers. Now, the Georgia House proposes whacking the JQC’s budget by more than one-third to just $176,000. Legislative leaders say it’s about getting their money’s worth from the commission’s part-time director. And, they say, it’s definitely not about the agency’s charges against a judge from House Speaker David Ralston’s hometown.
Griffin Circuit Superior Court Judge Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. agreed he would never be a judge again when he resigned this week. That generally happens when the state has launched an investigation of the judge’s conduct. DA Scott Ballard acknowledged that a state investigator met with him Tuesday.
They’re opening a new can of judges in the Georgia mountains, where three jurists have quit in four months. One of the new judges is House Speaker David Ralston’s law partner. Another will replace Mountain Circuit Superior Court Judge James Cornwell, who stepped down Friday. The governor reported Cornwell’s resignation to the state agency that looks into charges of judicial misconduct.