Jailhouses are rockin‘ in northeast Georgia, as hundreds of defendants awaiting trial are once again guaranteed an attorney if they cannot afford one. The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council this week settled a lawsuit alleging it had abandoned poor defendants in the five-county Northern Judicial Circuit. The judge signing the consent order concluded the state’s indigent-defense system is “fraught with a lack of accountability.”
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. He reportedly stepped down after meeting with Richard Hyde, investigator for the state Judicial Qualifications Commission.
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.