The Caldwell file: Which judges knew what and when?

Judge Johnnie Caldwell (file photo)

Messy PTC divorce case leads to 1 judge's downfall; more questions remain to be answered

UPDATED April 22, 8:30 p.m.: A long-running and messy Peachtree City divorce case is at the heart of this week’s shocking resignation of Fayette County Superior Court Judge Johnnie Caldwell, The Citizen has learned from court filings and in interviews. All four judges in the Griffin Judicial Circuit have removed themselves from the case during the past eight months because of allegations of judicial impropriety — a case that raises the question of which judges knew what and when, and what they did with what they knew.

Caldwell in a television interview Wednesday admitted he had made improper comments to an undisclosed number of women, including female attorneys. He said his resignation was meant to “atone” for his actions.

The pending case is a divorce action between Gregory Ellis Crook and Janet Bell Crook first filed in Fayette Superior Court April 2, 2008. Since then all four judges have handled the case — first, Johnnie Caldwell, then Chief Judge Paschal English, then Tommy Hankinson, and finally Christopher Edwards. Edwards, English and Hankinson all filed orders of recusal April 19 and 20.

It was this past Monday, April 19, that an investigator from the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission arrived in the circuit to extract a resignation from Caldwell and a handwritten promise from the veteran judge and former district attorney that he would never again seek or hold any judicial office. That promise was delivered to Governor Sonny Perdue Monday, along with Caldwell’s renunciation of any future office. No mention was made of the improprieties to which Caldwell admitted two days later.

The lawyer representing the wife in the case made the allegation of impropriety against Caldwell. Peachtree City attorney Susan M. Brown filed a memo April 19, 2010 in support of her motion to disqualify the fourth judge to hear the case, Christopher Edwards.

“During the pendancy of this action in 2008 and 2009, Judge Caldwell exhibited extra-judicial conduct and made statements toward Susan Brown which are believed improper and which resulted in biased rulings against the defendant or no rulings on motions at all,” according to the memo on file with the Fayette County Superior Court Clerk’s office.

“Susan Brown informed Chief Judge Paschal A. English, Jr., of the improprieties and the prejudice demonstrated,” the memo said. “Judge Caldwell presumably voluntarily recused himself.”

The wording indicates that many months ago, Chief Judge English knew of some allegations against Caldwell, leading to the case being transferred from Caldwell to English.

In fact, a “transfer order” — signed by Caldwell — reassigning the case from Caldwell to English was filed with the court clerk’s office Aug. 12, 2009, eight months before the JQC action resulting in Caldwell’s forced resignation. In this instance, a junior judge signed the order that reassigned a contentious case to the senior judge.

Whether the allegations were reported as soon as English found about them to the JQC, which has the power to discipline or remove judges, is unknown to the public since most of the JQC’s activities are shielded from disclosure by the Georgia Constitution.

English himself, in an interview with The Citizen Tuesday, said he had no knowledge of the reason for the JQC investigator’s visit to the circuit and had no information about anything Caldwell may have done to warrant his resignation. “I can’t comment because I don’t know anything,” Chief Judge English told The Citizen Tuesday. “I've heard probably about 50 different rumors.”

“Thereafter, judges Hankinson and English presumably voluntarily recused themselves and the case was assigned to, and is pending before, Judge Edwards, the only remaining superior court judge in the Griffin Circuit,” the April 19 memo continued. “While there are significant allegations of previous impropriety, the most recent proceeding and entry of the April 12 order by Judge Edwards are the basis for this motion.”

The official orders of recusal of both English and Hankinson were filed only this week, on April 20. No record of their recusals prior to this week exists in the court files.

An Edwards’ order on April 2 apparently spurred Mrs. Crook and her attorney Susan Brown to seek Edwards’ recusal. “Judge Edwards informed counsel for both parties that he would not go forward with the trial of the Crook action unless both parties submitted a written waiver that the parties waive any and all issues they may have in relation to any allegations of judicial impropriety regarding Judge Caldwell,” the April 19 memo said. “Judge Edwards said that he has been made aware of ‘improprieties’ and would call the parties into court to discuss the waiver issue.”

Mrs. Crook’s lawyer refused that waiver at the April 12 hearing before Edwards. That led to the following, reproduced exactly as presented in the official court papers:

“Counsel for defendant asked Judge Edwards for time to seek independent legal counsel on the impropriety and waiver issues. At or around that time Judge English entered the court room, asked to speak with Judge Caldwell [sic], and the judges had a meeting in chambers which could be overheard in the courtroom.

“Upon his return, Judge Caldwell’s [sic] demeanor had visibly changed toward defendant’s counsel’s request. Judge Edwards requested that the parties hand write an order and indicated that the parties would have one week to comply with parts of the order,” the April 19 defense memo said.

The order required the defendant to return several thousand dollars to her husband.

[Editor’s note: The memo’s mention of Caldwell as being in the courtroom is unexplained and may be a typographic error. The memo most likely means “Edwards” where it reads “Caldwell.”]

The defense said they agreed to Edwards’ subsequent order under duress, and accused Edwards of bias in the matter. “Judge Edwards’ impartiality might reasonably be questioned based upon the improprieties alleged in and tainting this action before Judges Caldwell and English,” the April 19 memo said.

Two days later, Judge Edwards recused himself on his own motion. “As mentioned in the defendant’s April 19 motion to recuse, this judge promised at hearings of April 2, 2010 and 12, 2010 [sic] to recuse himself if either of two events occurred: first, if either party, after due consideration with advice of counsel, decided to file any motion that raised the issue of alleged misconduct of another judge within the circuit; or, second, if all counsel and parties, after careful study, wished to waive the allegations of another judge’s alleged judicial misconduct as an issue in this divorce case only,” the April 21 order said.

“Without commenting on any other alleged fact or issue in the April 19 motion to recuse, the motion plainly alleges misconduct of another judge within this circuit, so no decision can be made in this case by a judge of this circuit,” Edwards wrote in his order.

In other words, Edwards was telling both parties that an allegation of judicial misconduct made by either party about one judge in the circuit would require Edwards as a matter of judicial ethics to recuse himself from the case. Since he was the last judge standing in the circuit not already recused, that meant the case would have to be postponed and a judge from outside the circuit would have to be brought in to start over.

The recusal removed the fourth and final superior court judge in the circuit from the 2-year-old divorce case. A visiting judge from another circuit now must be assigned to sort out the issues remaining in a messy divorce case that has already cost the career of one veteran superior court judge.

In the meantime, these questions remain:

1. When a junior judge reassigned a case to the chief judge of the circuit, did Chief Judge English inquire or discover why Caldwell was removing himself from the case?

2. If the chief judge of the circuit knew of allegations of impropriety by a fellow judge, what did Judge English do with that knowledge? The transfer of the case took place eight months ago.

3. What did Judge Hankinson know and when?

4. And was it Judge Edwards who blew the whistle to the JQC about the allegations of impropriety by his fellow judge?

We hope to answer those and other questions about this case in the coming days.

— Cal Beverly contributed to this story.

===========================================
Below are earlier versions of this story.

UPDATE 6 p.m. Wednesday:

Fayette County Superior Court Judge Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. admitted on television tonight to unprofessional conduct in making inappropriate comments to female attorneys. He also said it was the reason he agreed to resign from the bench suddenly on Monday, following a request from the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

UPDATE 6 p.m. Wednesday:

Fayette County Superior Court Judge Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. admitted on television tonight to unprofessional conduct in making inappropriate comments to female attorneys. He also said it was the reason he agreed to resign from the bench suddenly on Monday, following a request from the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

In an interview with WSB Channel 2, Caldwell said he never let a personal relationship with anyone influence a decision, and WSB reporter Mark Winne said the judge was speaking out because rumors of the events leading to his resignation were getting out of hand.

Caldwell said the decision to tender his resignation "was gut-wrenching. But it was part of what I was requested to do." He also suggested it was a way to "make amends" for his inappropriate language.

In a handwritten note provided to The Citizen by the governor's office, Caldwell agreed to "never seek or accept judicial office again." The note was labeled at the top as being a "consent order." The note was published online at www.atlantaunfiltered.com.

The detail is significant because it could indicate Caldwell's attempt to stave off a ruling by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission, which is confirmed to have interviewed several people in Fayette County yesterday regarding a formal complaint lodged against Caldwell.

The JQC will not release any details about the alleged complaint, nor will it confirm an investigation is ongoing. However, the JQC previously has dropped formal investigations in exchange for judges agreeing in writing to never seek judicial office again.

UPDATE 1 p.m. Wednesday:

Monday's resignation of Fayette County Superior Court Judge Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. was accompanied by an unusual handwritten note on his office letterhead.

In that note, Caldwell agreed to "never seek or accept judicial office again." The note was labeled at the top as being a "consent order." The note was published online at www.atlantaunfiltered.com.

The detail is significant because it could indicate Caldwell's attempt to stave off a ruling by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission, which is confirmed to have interviewed several people in Fayette County yesterday regarding a formal complaint lodged against Caldwell.

The JQC will not release any details about the alleged complaint, nor will it confirm an investigation is ongoing. However, the JQC previously has dropped formal investigations in exchange for judges agreeing in writing to never seek judicial office again.

Despite Caldwell's resignation, the JQC may still seek redress in the future, The Citizen was told today.

Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said a JQC investigator told him the agency does not have an open investigation into any complaint against Caldwell.

Caldwell's resignation Monday caught everyone by surprise in the Fayette County legal community.

Ballard said a JQC investigator asked him some questions yesterday but the investigator also told him the agency "does not have an open investigation" into the judge

UPDATE 9 a.m. Wednesday: While Monday's resignation of Fayette County Superior Court Judge Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. caught everyone by surprise, the Judicial Qualifications Commission does not have an open investigation into the judge, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said this morning.

Ballard said a JQC investigator asked him some questions yesterday but the investigator also told him the agency "does not have an open investigation" into the judge. The DA said he was unsure what the investigation might have been about.

"I really don't know what they're saying Judge Caldwell did," Ballard said, adding that Caldwell's resignation was "a great loss" to the legal community at large.

Despite the lack of an open JQC investigation on Caldwell, his resignation does not preclude action being taken by the commission at a later date, The Citizen has learned.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission, among other duties, is charged with investigating formal written complaints of judges who are accused of violating judicial canons or state law. JQC officials refused to comment on the matter when contacted Tuesday afternoon.

Most of the JQC's work is shrouded in secrecy, but if the agency formally "charges" Caldwell with any violations, that document would be made public, as well as any response Caldwell might have.

The website Barnesville.com reported yesterday that Caldwell resigned under pressure from a state judicial commission investigation. That same report claimed, the veteran judge signed a handwritten pledge to the JQC never to seek elective judicial office again. The Citizen has not been able to independently confirm Caldwell has taken such an action.

Such a document, if it existed, would not be available to the public, according to JQC director Cheryl Fisher Custer.

Meanwhile, a decision has been made for Fayette's other three judges to absorb Caldwell's criminal caseload, but a senior judge will be called upon in several weeks to assume his civil caseload, The Citizen has learned. Several courthouse officials said they believe Caldwell's resignation was based in large part on his father, whose health has declined significantly in recent weeks.

"The handwritten document Caldwell presented the JQC reads in black ink: 'I hereby agree to never seek or accept judicial office again.' In blue ink is the notation 'Accepted' followed by the signature of Richard Hyde. Richard Hyde is an investigator for the JQC. The document is dated April 19," said Barnesville.com in a report by publisher Walter Geiger posted Tuesday night. The site is the online version of the Barnesville Herald-Gazette.

According to the JQC website, the commission was formed in 1972 "to conduct investigations and hearings with respect to complaints of ethical misconduct by Georgia judges and is also authorized to issue Advisory Opinions regarding appropriate judicial conduct." The commission comprises two superior court judges, three lawyers and two at-large private citizens. The JQC has the power, after investigation, to recommend a judicial official be censured, suspended, removed or retired, subject to review by the Ga. Supreme Court.

District Attorney Scott Ballard, who lives in Fayette, confirmed to the Griffin Daily News that a JQC investigator had spoken to him Tuesday concerning Caldwell.

“'I will say that I had a conversation with an investigator from the Judicial Qualifications Commission, but he didn’t reveal any aspect of an investigation involving Judge Caldwell,' Ballard said. 'I couldn’t offer him any information about Judge Caldwell because I don’t know of anything wrong he’s done,'” Ballard told the Griffin Daily News.

Ballard otherwise said he knew nothing about what the JQC was looking into. When asked if the investigator inquired about Caldwell's personal life, Ballard said, "I would rather not say," the Griffin Daily News reported Tuesday night.

Monday’s resignation by Caldwell has taken the local legal community completely by surprise.

Caldwell is known for his lengthy prison sentences and sometimes brusque courtroom demeanor.

Caldwell, 63, tendered his handwritten resignation to Gov. Sonny Perdue Monday. This summer would have marked his 15th year on the bench.

In his resignation letter, Caldwell said he wished the opportunity to spend time with his grandchildren “and maybe practice law.”

Although Gov. Perdue may elect to appoint someone to fill the remainder of Caldwell’s term, he may also choose to allow the seat to remain vacant until the November election, according to a Perdue spokesman.

Caldwell was district attorney when he was first appointed as superior court judge July 27, 1995 by then-Gov. Zell Miller. Since then he has won reelection to remain in his seat; his campaigns were undoubtedly buttressed by the lengthy prison sentences he issued from felony drug violations to far more serious crimes.

Caldwell faced stiff opposition in his reelection campaigns of 2000 and 2004, both times from attorney John Mrosek of Peachtree City.

In 2008, Caldwell was unopposed for reelection.

While Caldwell’s stiff sentences will be missed by many in the legal community, there are undoubtedly a few defense attorneys who will be happy to see him leave the bench.

Prior to being appointed judge, Caldwell served as district attorney, the circuit’s top prosecutor. While he was defeated in an election for district attorney by now-State Court Judge Fletcher Sams, Caldwell regained the seat four years later by defeating Sams in a rematch.

In his 14 years as district attorney, Caldwell boasted of the highest conviction rate in the state of Georgia.

Before entering the public arena as district attorney, Caldwell was in private practice, representing clients in civil and criminal cases from his home base of Thomaston in Upson County.

Caldwell received his law degree from Mercer University and his undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia, where he also played on the football team.

Remaining judges in the Griffin Judicial Circuit are Chief Judge Paschal English of Thomaston, Judge Tommy Hankinson of Thomaston and Judge Christopher Edwards of Brooks, in Fayette County. The circuit comprises the counties of Upson, Pike, Spalding and Fayette.

Edwards' seat is the only one up for re-election this November.

Additional reporting on updates by Cal Beverly

Fayettetruthseeker
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Caldwell's replacement - not the dishonable W.Fletcher Sams

To Our Fayette County Neighbors:

Recently a young man, both a life guard and child entertainer, was arrested in Fayette County State Court of Georgia when responding to a minor traffic citation of less than 20 mph over the speed limit. He, a Jew, was arrested and charged with failure to appear, although he was on the court docket and on time before Judge W. Fletcher Sams, State Court Judge, Fayette County, Georgia.

His arrest followed his demonstrating that he knew the distinction between a corporate entity and a human being. For demonstrating this in “his court”, Griffin Circuit Judge W. Fletcher Sams had the Fayette County resident arrested, held without bond, and he was deprived of the opportunity to make or receive phone calls and to speak with his family or receive council of his choosing

Falsely charged with failure to appear (FTA), his next arraignment date exceeded the maximum sentence for a (FTA). Again Judge W. Fletcher Sams exceed the sentencing guidelines when Sams refused to follow the sentencing guidelines of receiving two (2) days credit for each day served. The Fayette citizen was held him extra days. Fearful for his life, after his incarceration, not only was he was prohibited from making or receiving phone calls, but was denied sufficient food for vegetarian. Practically fasting for several days and in a weakened condition, the Fayette County Citizen agreed to sign whatever papers would ensure his quick release from Fayette County Jail, this occurred after serving more than the maximum sentence for FTA. The Fayette citizen was only brought into court after the less than honorable Judge W. Fletcher Sams was served a writ of habeas corpus.

After receiving the writ and releasing the young man, the less than Honorable Judge W. Fletcher Sams retaliated. Sams with great hubris threatened the writer of the writ with a bench warrant for practicing law with a “license”. W. Fletcher Sams lied when he said it was a felony for practicing law without a “license”. On the same day, only minutes earlier, the less than Honorable Judge W. Fletcher Sams had said, prior to the writ writer’s arrival, that practicing law without a “license” is a misdemeanor. You can only lie to and intimidate some of the people some of the time.

The less than Honorable Judge W. Fletcher Sams later issued an inadequate public apology to the citizen who has never been arrested before this incident. Can the citizens of Fayette County afford to have liars in our judicial system? We, the family and friends of the falsely arrested are concerned about continued acts of retaliation from the less than Honorable Judge W. Fletcher Sams.

Please pray for justice to reign at the Fayette County Justice Center by providing candidates who will stick to the law, not make up punishments, for non-existant laws at their caprious whims.

MonkeyBoy37
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New Judge

Is a local female attorney meeting with her next Judge? I understand that the Governor is asking for nominations. It will be interesting to see who is selected and their relationship with her.

NeedAVacation
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Only the Crook Case?

Ms. Brown says "Judge Caldwell exhibited extra-judicial conduct and made statements toward Susan Brown which are believed improper and which resulted in biased rulings against the defendant or no rulings on motions at all". So if Ms. Brown truly believes in the statement she made, why didn't she file motions in her other contested cases assigned to Caldwell to be reassigned to another Judge(s)? Why does this only apply to the Crook case and no others assigned to Judge Caldwell?

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needavacation

You know, that's a really good question. I would like to know if there's a really good answer. How about it, peachykeen? You've been awfully quiet.

The Shadow
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Judges may be removed for these Reasons

The GA Constitution 1983 Article VI gives power to the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JCQ) to discipline, remove and cause involuntary retirement of judges for the following reasons.

1. Willful misconduct in office.
2. Willful & persistent failure to perform duties of office.
3. Habitual intemperance (excessive use of liquor).
4. Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.
5. Conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the judicial office into disrepute.

So, what we’ve heard is that Judge Caldwell made an off-color sexual remark to Atty. Brown at an out of office tailgate party. That doesn’t appear to fall within the power to remove a judge.

Therefore, there is more to this case than meets the eye. In addition, any judge accused of the above may have a hearing to determine his guilt or innocence.

The fact that neither Judge Caldwell nor Judge English asked for a hearing is an admission of one of the above 5 reasons. Judge English may be guilty of #2, failure to take action on what is the real reason for Caldwell’s removal.

CarlEQue
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Brown said Friday that she

Brown said Friday that she never pursued any investigation into Caldwell’s sexually-charged comments “because I liked him as a judge.”

“I did not want Judge Caldwell removed,” Brown said. “I just wanted it to stop.”

The risque comments from Caldwell that Brown talked about on the record occurred outside the courtroom setting at a tailgate function for a football game, Brown said.

The comment in 2007 was directed at Brown but the one in 2008 was a comment about Brown that Caldwell directed at two of Brown’s clients, she said. In a TV interview this week, Caldwell admitted to making inappropriate comments to female attorneys.

AND..........
The Fulton County Daily Report contacted Brown who declined to discuss Caldwell's resignation or the unspecified improprieties attributed to Caldwell in court documents.

However, another attorney did speak out.

Gary S. Freed, told the Daily Report, "Basically, our position was the judge [Caldwell] was not impartial. He was engaged in persistent improper conduct toward counsel [Susan Brown] which was of a sexist and intimidating nature, which we believe impacted his rulings in the case."

Brown rejected the judge's repeated overtures, Freed said. Brown later complained about Caldwell's conduct to Judge English, the circuit's chief judge. English "ignored it," according to Freed.

So....why wait two years to decide you were allegedly offended by the comments? Stall tactic? More money?

jackyldo
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I recently had a friend divorce in another circuit

His now Ex was represented by Ms Brown -- They very simply split and had a couple of issues for mediation... Several months later after a variety of delays and continuances,, they settled for what was originally discussed ..

Unfortunately for some lawyers it's all about the face time and the money.

OneNationUnderGod
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Despicable

Who should the Ethics committee really be investigating?

Bonkers
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jacyldo : lawyers

When you ask a lawyer for advice (including whether you should even bother to continue) you are going to get all of the advice (needed or unneeded) that you can afford!

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Ex-judge Caldwell some advice

You have given dogs what is sacred; and thrown your pearls to swine.

You have used what little honor you have left by resigning, but it will not keep you safe from those that want to destroy you.

Simply retire to private life, you have done enough to your community, your family and your friends.

For those in pursuit of this man, John 8:1

Bonkers
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Observer: Judges

Have you ever noticed that in most trials in front of a judge when there are witnesses for both sides who testify under oath, that almost always the testimony of one side is completely opposite of the other side?

Then, when the jury decides the winner, the judge does not charge the opposite side witnesses, nor their lawyer in some cases, with perjury!

Why would that be? It is obvious.

The reason is that judges are judges. All of the time they judge what they think needs to be done. The only attention that they pay to the precise law is that which may get them disbarred!

Then there is the scratch my back thing such as crime bosses have. People in the business, you know.

Why do you think we have an enormous quantity of 5-4 votes in the Supreme Court? Is our constitution that confusing?

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Dear Major Mike

I’m not the one involved in the septic tank case, but was in the court and heard the arguments. You missed the legal point. The company was not certified to carry on a septic business, therefore the work was illegal. You cannot contract to clean out a septic tank until you have taken courses and passed a test.

Call the GA Dept of Health and ask them if you can do work on septic tanks without certification. They will say no and direct you to DHR regulation 290-5-26-.17, if you don’t believe them. Call Fayette Co EPA and ask for a permit to dispose of the waste and they won’t give you one without State Certification.

Apparently you have never had a septic tank cleaned if you think over $1000 is a low end price. You must be one of the many people who bought the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Septic Co is defrauding people by charging people for work they didn’t do and used scare tactics of so called chemicals they find in your septic for $850 extra charges to dump it into a “special facility”.

Obviously you are a fan of Judge Tinsley and don’t care how many people get scammed by these people. But I didn’t write this blog for you. I wrote it to let other unsuspecting people who have septic tanks to avoid being taken. And yes the defrauded property owners are not going to pay for illegal work, they are going to appeal a bad ruling by Judge Tinsley at their further expense of course, which should have been avoided in magistrate court. And fyi, truth is not slander. If it was I suppose Judge Caldwell wouldn’t have resigned.

Bonkers
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Illegal work by unlicensed companies

There are still believers that the only rule that applies to this type thing is : "Buyer Beware."

If you ask Joe Blow off the street to clean your gutters or wash your windows for a fixed fee then you owe him for asking him to do it.
It was a way of that type business for more years than not.

However if the person quoted one price then asked another without letting you choose, then you should not have to pay the difference, or maybe nothing if he didn't do any of the job.

Not knowing the conversation there, I don't know.

After all people still send faith healers money when they have been shown to be faking at least most of their "healings."
Cars are sold for $199 per month and 0% interest on TV and newspapers every day! It doesn't tell near the whole story, but if you let them con you into signing the whole story, then the judge will say "pay it."

We are a country of unmanaged business practices as much as possible. We can't get away with shooting the cheater as we might have a hundred years ago!

Bonkers
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Illegal work by unlicensed companies

There are still believers that the only rule that applies to this type thing is : "Buyer Beware."

If you ask Joe Blow off the street to clean your gutters or wash your windows for a fixed fee then you owe him for asking him to do it.
It was a way of that type business for more years than not.

However if the person quoted one price then asked another without letting you choose, then you should not have to pay the difference, or maybe nothing if he didn't do any of the job.

Not knowing the conversation there, I don't know.

After all people still send faith healers money when they have been shown to be faking at least most of their "healings."
Cars are sold for $199 per month and 0% interest on TV and newspapers every day! It doesn't tell near the whole story, but if you let them con you into signing the whole story, then the judge will say "pay it."

We are a country of unmanaged business practices as much as possible. We can't get away with shooting the cheater as we might have a hundred years ago!

CarlEQue
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Wow

I see peachykeen is back....Susan Brown, is that you????? I thought I recognized you!

Susan is one busy woman....seems to like those extended cases where her client is bled dry. http://www.ripoffreport.com/lawyers/susan-brown-attorney/susan-brown-att...

As far as ethics go, somewhere there's a saying about glass houses and stones. Just read some of the exhibits on this site. http://www.rosespeaks.com/tag/susan-m-brown-georgia-attorney/

I think the conflict of interest could possibly be that Susan's rumored attorney is next in line for the judgeship. Hmm....corruption in the background?

OneNationUnderGod
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Imagine

Imagine that....continuing the case, now 5 times, meaning more money for Ms. Brown. Wonder if her client knows what she is doing to the children. The price that should be paid for what was done to Judge Caldwell, should be biblical.

tortugaocho
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Who's gonna be the replacement judge?

Who's gonna be the replacement judge? Maybe it will be Alan Connell !!! LOL

scribbler
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EVERYBODY OUT OF THE POOL !?!

Maa-a-a-a-a-aaannnn....

As a long-time Fayette resident:

I am NOT SUPRISED by the judicial disqualification/ resignation of Caldwell; long overdue -- in my humble...

I have always had high confidence in Pappy... I hope there is no wrongdoing or breach of practice here -- YET-- If there has been peer-protective discretion contrary to established law & ethics -- THIS... should be the next letter to land on Sonny's desk.

Edwards -- Seems he definitely stepped in a messy cow-pie. Trying to extract waivers and promises from counsel in a civil case -- regarding the breach of decorum and lack of integrity in the session of another judge...... Hmmmmm.....
Ooooooops....
--Hizzoner should spool up the word processor- get that letter ready.

Hankinson --- IDK... wild card for unknown involvement. More to be revealed... I s'pect.

***********

I can only wonder if the investigation and disqualification of Caldwell will also have repercussions in any of the criminal cases he heard -- sentences handed down, etc.... as all of this comes to light.

citizen for jus...
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An Old Joke

What do you call Judge Cauldwell's resignation???

A good start....

now we need a good flush in the DA's office.

OneNationUnderGod
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You are on point...almost

I think you make a good point, citizen. However, what has happened is we lost the good one. It should be noted that, because of his honesty and impeccable record, Judge Caldwell could only be railroaded out by a 'risque comment at a football game.' We need to pay really close attention to who had an agenda so big that Johnny Caldwell had to go.

citizen for jus...
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Reply to One Nation Under God

One Nation Under God: "...good point, citizen. However, what has happened is we lost the good one. It should be noted that, because of his honesty and impeccable record..."

After witnessing Caldwell's tyranny in his umm (correction)our courtroom, it appearred to me that he thought he was the "god" that your "one nation" (or Judicial District) was under.

BTW...the "good ones" don't resign while under investigation...obviously, this Johnnie be bad, not good...

Good riddance....

normal
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A good start No No

A thousand lawyers and judges at the bottom of the ocean is a good start.
Told you they are all scum. They only care about your pocket book not you personally, Just like the government. Take the money and run.

Boo
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Judge Tinsley Needs to Resign Also

Magistrate Judge Joe Tinsley is incompetent and doesn’t follow the law. Just this week Tinsley ruled in favor of an out of town septic company by the name of All About Septic & Plumbing, who had scammed a Fayette property owner for $1145 to clean out his septic tank.

The property owner presented Tinsley with certified evidence from both the State Dept of Health and the Fayette County Environmental Health Dept that the company was not certified by the State to operate a septic business or permitted by the County to dispose of septic waste. The State ordered the company to cease and desist operating under penalty of law.

Ignoring this clear cut evidence Judge Tinsley gave a $1000 judgment to this illegal company. Any layman knows that a company without a proper license cannot contract to do business and certainly cannot profit from an illegal contract.

Fayette citizens need to be aware that All About Septic & Plumbing is operating in Fayette County taking advantage of their lack of septic knowledge by over-charging for septic clean-outs. The average price of a clean-out is $250-$295. A real estate agent, doctor or lawyer would be in big trouble operating without proper license.

Thanks Judge Tinsley for not protecting Fayette property owners and turn in your resignation for incompetence.

MajorMike
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Boo

You did not say in your argument wheather or not the company in question actually performed the work. If the property owner recieved the service(s) then he/she is obligated to pay if the service was performed properly. The issue of licensing is between said contractor and various government entities. From your post it sounds like your friend (or you) is searching for reasons to not pay for said service.

Judge Tinsley has been known for many years as a Magistrate Judge who gives fair and equitable judgements even to the point of making some in "law enforcement" mad. Since your average price figures do not represent an average price but the low end of the pricing spectrum for this service, I must doubt your other assertions.

You really need to think about it before you slander someone for making a decision that you don't like.

citizen for jus...
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Judge Tinsley Needs to Resign Also

You are correct Boo...if he doesn't resign, we need to vote him out. I would gladly contribute to the campaign of someone who runs against him!

He is a rubber stamp for the jackboots with guns and badges that call themselves the FPD.

againstfayette
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Is this really such a surprise?

I have come to realize that the "judicial" system in Fayette county is more than currupt. From the police to the judges, this county does whatever they can do to get the verdict they want. The verdict that will assure re-election. At what point are the people of this county going to step up and stop this madness? Our judicial system is designed to protect us, in the courtrooms in Fayette County, there is no law other than what the judge feels is necessary. Sure, the judge has some wiggle room, but there are constitutional rights that they violate without a second thought. In Fayette County, It's Judge Caldwell's court room, Judge English's court room, Judge Edwards' court room. They make up the rules as they go. They pick and choose what they want hear and what witnesses they'll allow to testify according to how they want the verdict to go. The defence has too strong of a case against the state, that's ok, we'll get it quashed by not allowing evidence that is VERY pertinent to the case when the defence presents it, but if evidence submitted by the state isn't proper, heck! They'll give them time and instructions on how to correct it. I cannot wait until every last judge in this system is investigated and disbarred. This county needs to completely start over again. From scratch, see if they can't get their eyes off the money and actually start doing something to improve their county and make the lives of their citizens better. Maybe that way, then they'll get more visitors than the criminals they trick to come in.

flightplan
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they go way back

Oh man, Alan Connell and Johnnie go way back. Why do you think everyone tries to get Connell as an attorney and how does Connell always end up in front of Caldwell? They've been doing this crap for years.

peachykeen
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Yes they go way back!

From what I hear how about sitting on a bank board of directors, dinners together several nights a week, vacations at Connell's homes. Theses two are in bed together more often than Tiger Wood's and his flavor of the day. For all you people defending him, either you must be friends with him or your legal counsel is. .... because this joker doesn't follow the law, only his version of the law that suits his croanies.

beachcomber
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Something else stinks on the divorce case

Caldwell and the estranged husband's attorney Alan Connell are on a board of bank together.....isn't that a conflict of interest??? He should have recused himself a long time ago!

Checkout West Central Georgia Bank website

http://www.wcgb.com/aboutus.asp

Board of Directors

Jesse E. Rogers, Jr. – Chairman of the Board
Johnnie L. Caldwell, Jr.
Kenneth E. Coggins
Alan W. Connell
James A. Robinson, Jr.
Jeffrey Rogers
Charles D. Short

jevank
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New bloggers with an agenda

Although it is a semi-interesting connection, I don't believe it's a strong enough reason for him to have recused himself.

Now tell us about your divorce case and how he was sooo unfair to you.

AtHomeGym
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Jevank, you should understand that

we've got some "pilers-on"ariound who, all of a sudden got motivated to sign up and start to blog about the Judge (who I know nothing about). Of course all these folks either suspected or knew of questionable relationshiips and activities long ago but elected to remain silent,but now that someting official has happened,it's "jump on the bandwagon." You know I discovered long ago an easy way to avoid judges--live a clean life and stay out of trouble and you'll never see one officially. In my many yrs in this life, I've never seen or talked to a Judge except at my own request and that dealt with probate or guardianship matters. The voting public spoke in his favor more than once.

peachykeen
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jevank-eee

What is with the people in this district defending this joker? Why are you so afraid of the truth or new bloggers? Are you related to him? Either that or you are a friend of the family or your attorney is. His courtroom in civil cases never had anything to do with justice, only which attorney he preferred.

beachcomber
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jevank

Why does it matter if I'm a NEW blogger? That doesn't change black & white information. Obviously, the Connell/Caldwell connection is not a NEW thing. Checkout the OLD blogger "fligthplan". Maybe you'll take it more seriously from him/her since he/she are not NEW. I never stated I had a divorce case.....I find your comment "semi-interesting" but fully inaccurate.

mudcat
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Yo John/Cal time for an update on Caldwell

2 hours ago WSB reported Susan Brown's involvement in all this. Good local story as she is married to Mark Brown, police officer - maybe sargent or lieutenant and was with local attorney Jim Webb when he was tagged for the Fantasy Fitness debacle. And was Doug Mitchell's daughter-in-law.

Get on the story dudes.

joyfulblu
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Good to see Caldwell go

Judge Caldwell may have made some good decisions in some criminal cases, but as for civil cases - he makes me sick. He was rude, short, and actually fell asleep while testimony was going on at my divorce case while child custody was being decided. WHAT? Are the lives of children not important to him?

It was also obvious that he never read the case information submitted to him before the hearings. He made many comments to his court secretary about not having read the papers and he needed to look at them real quick. He would glance down, barely read the papers, and then make a decision. Peoples lives are at stake and he doesn't even have time to review the case information before he makes rulings?

Due to financial issues, I had to represent myself at one time. He embarrassed me in front of the entire courtroom full of people about a piece of paper that I apparently wasn't smart enough to file and dismissed us without telling me exactly what it was I needed to file. He also apparently doesn't care whether my ex follows his court orders as he never does anything about it when we go back to court on contempt.

I'm at my wits end with the Fayette County Justice System. There is no justice in that system. I hope that just one judge will prove me wrong one of these days.

fay79isus
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Judge Caldwell: Really? Why?

This fellows blog on the Pike County paper is pretty interesting, particularly when he says that "The stories of his minor misdeeds on the bench were truly the “tip of the iceberg”. "

http://www.pikecountygeorgia.com/archives/1270-Judge-Caldwell-has-steppe...

ElVee
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Interim appointment?

Any ideas as to what names might be on the governor's short list to appoint to this position?

jevank
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Been wondering that myself, ElVee

Another question is whether John Mrosek will be running in November (Could be unopposed.)

Spyglass
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I think we've become way too touchy

as a society about comments that others make. Just my take...folks need to get thicker skin.

GAltant
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Good or Bad?

Winning your 2 cases doesn't determine if this guy is good or bad...!!

highflyer2
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You never know

In my 56 years, I have seen and driven on both sides of the tracks. One thing you have to admit about the bad guys....you know from the start where they are coming from and what to expect. I think what surprises all of us is when the "God like" people on the good side of the tracks turn out to be just another bad guy. Double standards? You figure it out.
I have learned to live my life by the old saying..."Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer".

AtHomeGym
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Highflyer, so you have determined that

Caldwell is a "bad guy"? And upon what evidence may I ask, have you made such a determination?

whigrose
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I am shocked to hear of this.

I am shocked to hear of this. As a young female lawyer, Judge Caldwell gave me my first break by hiring me as the law clerk for the circuit. He always behaved appropriately whenever I was around him, both on and off the bench. I don't think it was really a secret that he and I had diametrically opposed political views. I got the message right away that the circuit was very conservative whereas I am very liberal. One time, he asked me to write a decision for him. After doing my research, from what I could tell, it basically came down to a matter of judicial discretion. I wrote the opinion two different ways and told him there was support for either one. Of course he chose to sign off on the opinion I would not have chosen myself. But hey, he was the judge so it was his prerogative after all. I will say that contrary to popular opinion, all the judges of the circuit are concerned with following the law. Think of it this way, they don't want to be overturned by a higher court. They might not always agree with it, and they certainly try to find law to support their views when they feel strongly about something, but in the end they will follow clear precedent no matter what. But I digress. I don't know what happened that led to the resignation. I've been away from the area for several years. I know things like this happen everywhere to people you'd never suspect to be involved in such a scandal. I also know I wasn't around Judge Caldwell in his office very much since he stayed in Thomaston and I was usually in Fayetteville. Still, I am very shocked. I wish him, his family, and his staff well. No one stops to think, when something like this happens, about how it will affect the secretaries, court reporters, etc.

PTC Avenger
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Glad Caldwell Is Gone

Caldwell was a real piece of work in the courtroom. He was rude, curt, and threatening to many people who came before him. And I'm not talking about hardcore felons here, but regular people who had to see him for small infractions. This guy had a severe God complex. I'm surprised he didn't wear a powdered wig.

beachcomber
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His Channel 2 interview....what a joke!!

I never blog but I could not be silent on this issue. If you have EVER been in his courtroom, you would not recognize the man that gave an interview today with Channel 2!!! What a performance!! So he admits to "inappropriate language" to female attorneys (PLURAL, not just one)....wow, that must be some language to force you off the bench. He abuses his position and then tries to lead the public to believe it didn't affect his rulings on the bench. One word...DENIAL!!!

beachcomber
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Continued...

We're supposed to believe his interview...he already contradicted himself in the interview. He said he resigned to "make amends" but his resignation letter to the Governor stated he wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren and maybe practice law. So GLAD he is GONE!!!

DM_87
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Agreed!

The guy is a trip...it's clear--to me at least--that he resigned to avoid the investigation or the ruling of the investigation that the JQC was involved in. And then he's going to come out and tell everything today? Doubtful--he escaped ruling on the investigation and now he's simply doing an image overhaul. Put the guy under oath and see if he fesses up...doubtful again...

DM_87
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Great day

This is a great day for Fayette County and the district in general. This comes as no surprise to me. It's obvious there was specific wrongdoing on his part and I know for a fact there were other instances. This is a man concerned more with the politics of his position than the law he claims to enforce. I for one view this as the first in what needs to be a string of victories in the Fayette Judicial System. Only with this oversight can we really see the change that needs to take place!

ugalvr91
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Re: Great day

I would like to know why you think he was more concerned with Politics than the law...As someone who has seen the sentences handed out by the Circuit judges here, JLC was the one that was the most strict. You need to do your homework before you start posting things...Now, I do believe that some decisions that he made civilly weren't the most honest, but not in criminal court. The Fayette Judicial system needs more than the removal of this judge to be rehabilitated. For beginners, people over there need to know when ya break the law there are consequences...

30YearResident
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Publics Right To Know

If a public figure resigns under pressure from an investigative body, it's the publics right to understand what prompted the resignation.
This was a judge that affected the lives of many people over the 15 years he sat on the bench.
He obviously violated the public trust in some manner that was serious enough for him to both resign and agree to never seek public office again.
The public needs to know what that violation was.
I'm sure he hasn't lost his very lucrative retirement benefits, so in effect, he still remains on "OUR" payroll. If his violation of public trust warrents, maybe he should be stripped of those benefits as well.

normal
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something stinks here

Lets get TMZ to investigate it. He may and I say may be a rat like most judges and lawyers. Only out to pad the pocket.

AtHomeGym
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Judge Caldwell did not agree never

to seek "Public" office again--it was "Judicial office. "investigative body"?---well, maybe sometimes.

vindication2010
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truth

Sometimes the truth hurts!

peachykeen
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seriously who removed your comment?

Vindication- who removed your comment?

The Wedge
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Vindication 2010 removed comment

I remember it. The item that I remember the most clearly is that this Mercer attending person does not like that this judge was an alumnus. Feel free to embrace these other notables from your university-Nancy Grace and Nathan Deal. Embrace them and feel alumni love

griffin_dawg
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VINDICATION2010....comment removed

What happen to freedom of speech?

Spyglass
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Freedom of Speech?

On a privately owned website? Learn about your Bill of Rights....Freedom of Speech certainly doesn't apply here.

Maybe your post was in jest.

griffin_dawg
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VINDICATION2010

Where did your comment go????

Steve Brown
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Local judges

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the JQC has had to push a local judge out of office. Regarding Caldwell, this comes as no surprise to me. Luckily for the offending parties, the JQC allows judges to eek out the back door instead of facing the music which is what ought to happen.

Chris P. Bacon
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District Attorney Scott Ballard Knows Why...

Scott Ballard knows why, but he ain't telling.

Judging from the "lawyerly" answers District Attorney Scott Ballard was giving the Griffin Daily News tonight, this sudden resignation had to do with the JQC investigating Johnnie Caldwell's personal conduct (as opposed to legal/judicial malpractice).

The paper notes that the JQC does not have the authority to investigate judges no longer on the bench.

PTCBernie
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Judge Caldwell

Judge the man by what he does in the courtroom. I have spent time in his court watching more than a few cases and he hands out stiff sentences to repeat drug offenders and violent criminals. I applaud him for that.

Bonkers
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The Judge

Am I losing my mind or was the first article on this subject in this paper much different in the first half of it?

griffin_dawg
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For the Caldwell faithful....

Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission was at courthouses in the circuit today with regard to an investigation. Additionally, Caldwell has signed an agreement with the JQC to never seek office again.

http://www.barnesville.com/archives/2350-Judge-Caldwell-has-stepped-down...

peachykeen
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GOOD RIDDANCE CALDWELL

So glad this man is stepping down, he is such slime ball! He is the stereotypical judge that places more importance on personal connections on his rulings than using the LAW as the basis for them! This district should be leaping for joy that he is gone!!! Hmmmm wonder why he stepped down considering he was just elected??? Could there be a skeleton here Johnnie????

Robert W. Morgan
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Caldwell is a good man, peachykeen

Unlike you, I won my 2 lawsuits in front of him. 1 by jury, 1 by the judge. Get over it witchy woman. He was defintely tough on miscreants.

Boning the clerk or even your assistant is not a crime if she/he is willing. I have no knowledge of that and Bud Ballard was definitely not involved. Just saying that it is not a crime.

I did hear he has agreed not to seek elected office again for some unknown reason. I believe I heard that on Channel 2 - WSB. What does that tell us?

peachykeen
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Dear Robert....

Do I need to even reply? I think your post says it all. You are certainly a classy guy. Nice Wolfman Jack photo.

griffin_dawg
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Woah

Robert W. Morgan....why did you say this?

"Boning the clerk or even your assistant is not a crime if she/he is willing. I have no knowledge of that and Bud Ballard was definitely not involved. Just saying that it is not a crime."

AtHomeGym
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Caldwell "just elected" you say?

I don't call Nov 2008 "just elected"---but maybe since you just signed on, perhaps you bring some new definitions to this blog. And how about some examples of the "personal connections" you mention--if you're gonna accuse, you should be prepared to back it up.

peachykeen
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DO the math

He had many more months yet to serve, compared to the ones he has already served. Please read the new article on the judge, maybe your opinion will change with some of the new facts.

littlewarrior p...
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Hello

I know 2 things on him so peechykeen if it's what I think it is I agree the slimeball is out

Spyglass
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Care to site an example of a ruling of his you disagreed with?

I would be interested in your depth of knowledge on this subject.

peachykeen
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dear spyglass....

I am not at liberty to discuss the dirt I know on this "man", but the people of this district are MUCH better off without him!

Spyglass
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IF you're not at "liberty to discuss" it..

then I agree with others, it shouldn't be brought up here. Totally uncalled for.

littlewarrior p...
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hi

i believe all the dirt should be brought up on this judge believe me i know a couple of things like taking narcotics during a trial he was residing on. the jqc knows about this.

The Wedge
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Completely bush league
peachykeen wrote:

I am not at liberty to discuss the dirt I know on this "man", but the people of this district are MUCH better off without him!

I do not know anything about this man other than the news writeup above. Yet now I am supposed to consider this person to be bad based upon your anonymous, uncredited, unverified, gutter snipe remarks? Why would I assume that you know anything about this person at all? Provide details and facts or keep the insinuation of criminality and corruption to yourself. It is a bit ridiculous. Could I insinuate that you are a felon and state that I am not at liberty to discuss it?

peachykeen
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Wedge-interesting choice of words "Bush" league

You certainly have an interesting choice of words for your topic title. It sounds like you might know something. Fess up Wedge.
Perhaps the newer Citizen article has revealed a darker side of the judge for you.

haroldwilson
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I KNOW THIS MAN

I am proud to say I know this man. The "bench" and the good people of this district are losing a defender of the truth and a fair punisher of the unjust. I don't know what the other commentator (Peachykeen) thinks he or she knows about Judge Caldwell, but its persons such as this who damage a reputation when knowing nothing. What I KNOW about this man is that he is a Christian and strives to be an example as such. Just as surely as you insinuate there may be skeletons or dirt in Judge Caldwell's life, you have caused me to think there MUST be skeletons in yours. The dirt I see in you is obvious in the manner in which you speak of someone that you do not know.

I and my family only wish for the Judge the very best. He deserves it - much like what the many criminals deserve who he has so boldly put where they deserve to be.

peachykeen
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Dear Harold...

Why would the Judicial Qualifications Committee ask for him to sign a document stating he will never seek public office again? It must be because he is a "defender of the truth". Also, I have done nothing to damage this yahoo's reputation....HE DID THAT ALL BY HIMSELF.

Robert in PTC
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The people who received long

The people who received long sentences got what they deserved. But, Caldwell's berating of attorneys and other staff in court was completely out of line. A Christian? You reap what you sow, and he got what he deserved.

fay79isus
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Judge Caldwell--- What we know

What we know is that he lost one election in a couple three decades of service. OK, so far so good.

We also know he abruptly resigned; less than the normal time span a politician would do. Why? What was he saving? If the deal involved a promise not to run again for office, like RW said, that there sounds suspicious.

The whole thing stinks and we'll probably never see the light of day.

PTCBernie
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Judge Caldwell

His brand of justice will be missed!

jevank
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Judge Caldwell

I'm truly sorry to see you go. I wish you well in whatever you decide to do.

Bonkers
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Judge Caldwell & Little Warrior

For those of you who might not know why the Judge agreed to never run for the judiciary again, and it is hoped that he will have no further trouble for doing that, the above complaint is the reason such an agreement was accepted by the judging committee!

It is the same reason that Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and many congressmen, Senators m and corporate Chief Executive officers are allowed to fade away---
fewer people will be hurt this way and the expense of a trial, if one is needed, wouldn't be worth the effort. Probably wouldn't be found guilty anyway.

The judges resignation will indicate to other judges that will be their fate if they find themselves in a position of being required to not show up anymore.

We only jail or kill those who we are afraid of harming us again.
It has always been so and always will be.

Chances are the judge was only being fallible but didn't want to go through all of the details in public that would make other judges look badly.