Dekalb County grand jury criticizes Recorder’s Court

The DeKalb County Recorder’s Court was plagued by a ticket scam earlier this year which led to the indictments of three employees and five other individuals. A grand jury recently concluded that the court is haunted by lax oversight and leadership problems which continue to make it vulnerable to fraud.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the story.

The DeKalb County Recorder’s Court handles traffic tickets and misdemeanor crimes. In 2008, a review of the court found that millions of dollars in fines were never paid to the court. Three employees were then indicted this year in an alleged ticket-fixing scam. One of those employees pleaded guilty last week to violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and received a 12 month sentence.

A grand jury was empaneled during July and August to review the court’s operations and oversight. It heard testimony from various officials including Chief Judge R. Joy Walker who is the head of the DeKalb County Recorder’s Court. The grand jury found that there was no oversight at the time of the scam, and that Judge Walker took no action even after learning of the scam.

Judge Walker disputes the findings and claims that action was taken. She believes that court workers would carry out the fraud by telling judges that police officers had reduced tickets from fines to warnings. The workers would then charge fees for dismissing the tickets. Walker claims that upon learning of the scam she created a new policy in which an officer would have to show up in court or put a request in writing in order to downgrade a ticket from a fine to a warning.

DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis stated that the grand jury’s findings confirmed prior suspicions, and that the findings justify an audit of the court. The grand jury also recommended several changes including more officers to enforce warrants and an improved computer system to monitor cases.

Pate & Brody is an accomplished Georgia law firm with offices in Atlanta, Macon and Madison. Our lawyers are dedicated to pursuing justice for people charged with serious crimes. We have successfully represented clients facing serious federal criminal charges and state criminal charges in courts across Georgia. Our lawyers have been recognized on the list of Georgia’s “Super Lawyers”, and included among Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend Magazine. Page Pate was recently the Chairman of the Criminal Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association.

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