Judge Kenneth E. Fowler has been charged with 16 counts of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct. This marks the beginning of formal proceedings against Judge Fowler by the state’s Commission on Judicial Qualifications.
The Macon Telegraph has the story.
The Commission on Judicial Qualifications has the duty of investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and for disciplining judges in Georgia. It is made up of two judges, three attorneys, and two lay people. Typically, they conduct an investigation and hold hearings into allegations of misconduct. After these proceedings are held, the Commission may recommend to the Supreme Court of Georgia that a judge should be removed, disciplined, or retired from the bench. The Supreme Court makes the ultimate determination.
In this case, the Commission alleges that Judge Fowler abused his power and suppressed the rights of defendants who came before him. Among the 16 counts, the Commission alleges that Judge Fowler told criminal defendants that they had the burden to prove their innocence, expressed bias in criminal matters, gave false or misleading information to criminal defendants, improperly questioned defendants, held fees paid by criminal defendants in his own account and failed to turnover the fees to the county, failed to be courteous to individuals in probate court, improperly used the prestige of being a judge, and allowed unqualified persons to serve as interpreters in court.
Judge Fowler has 30 days to respond the charges against him. If he chooses to fight the charges, a hearing will be set by the Commission at the earliest convenient date.
Our firm has previously represented a probate judge from Middle Georgia and helped that judge defend a JQC complaint. It is important for lawyers involved in these sensitive matters to be sure that such a complaint not lead to discipline, false press reports, or anything else that could permanetly damage the judge’s reputation.
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