High court suspends Twiggs judge WITH pay
Twiggs County Probate Judge Kenneth Fowler was suspended with pay this morning by the Georgia Supreme Court. The state Judicial Qualifications Commission pushed for Fowler’s removal last month after the judge removed two probation officers from his courtroom.
Fowler said he was simply trying to find some probation officers he could trust because the two men, who testified about his courtroom behavior, seemed to have a “vendetta” against him. But the JQC argued he was trying to intimidate the men, who work for a private probation management firm, in case they were required to testify in any future proceedings regarding his status as a judge.
The high court is still reviewing the JQC’s recommendation to remove Fowler from the bench permanently. Witnesses at a January hearing said Fowler was ride and verbally abusive to defendants, intervened in matters outside his jurisdiction and misstated the law, telling defendants they had the burden to prove themselves innocent.
In addition, Fowler allowed defendants sentenced to community service to “buy out” their sentence for a fee. Fowler controlled that money, using it primarily for local law enforcement purposes, and resisted turning it over to the county’s general fund, the JQC said. was placed in a special fund under Fowler’s control
Fowler will continue to draw a paycheck until the justices decide his fate.