Judge reprimanded for cussing out GBI agents, prosecutors
A North Georgia judge today acknowledged trying to intimidate prosecutors who were investigating another judge in her circuit for alleged election fraud.
Lookout Mountain Superior Court Judge Kristina Cook Connelly Graham received a public reprimand in court today for two unrelated incidents in 2008 and 2009. The reprimand said Graham had admitted her actions.
Graham had already recused herself from the case of State Court Judge Carlton Vines because her father, famed defense attorney Bobby Lee Cook, was representing him. But in September 2008, Graham called prosecutors to her chambers for a hearing, where her father was already present.
According to the reprimand by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission:
Without giving the prosecutors any notice or a chance to defend themselves, you then reprimanded the prosecutors for what you perceived to be their actions in the handling of this criminal matter. Even though you had no authority to handle any such hearing, or to administer such a reprimand, you verbally and repeatedly demeaned and belittled prosecutors in a manner that was overbearing, rude and intolerant.
Vines was later indicted for conspiracy to fix his 2006 bid for re-election by having supporters complete absentee ballots without the voters’ knowledge. His trial last year ended in a hung jury, but the State Election Board is pursuing civil charges.
In a separate incident six months later, Graham cussed out several GBI agents and accused one of lying to her “without justification and in a manner unbecoming your office.”
These attacks were motivated by your personal interest because your name had been mentioned in the course of this investigation and were made in a manner that was designed to intimidate the agents rather than to further any legitimate role of your office.
Graham believed the agents had brought up her name in talks with a confidential informant as part of a state and federal drug investigation. The reprimand didn’t say exactly what she said, but the complaint by GBI Director Vernon Keenan said the judge called GBI agent Del Thomasson “a fucking, lying son of a bitch.” Among other things.
Agents recorded the confrontation in Graham’s chambers. You can read the transcript at the end of Keenan’s complaint.