Another judge steps aside in controversial Fayette divorce case

Yet another judge has recused himself from a long-running Fayette County divorce case. Senior Superior Court Judge Grant Brantley filed a voluntary recusal order in the case Oct. 14.

The action followed a motion seeking his recusal filed by attorneys for Janet Bell Crook, whose husband Gregory Crook filed for divorce in April 2008.

In that motion, attorneys for Mrs. Crook argued that Brantley gave preferential treatment by not enforcing a valid subpoena on former Superior Court Judge Paschal A. English Jr., yet forcing another defense witness to appear under subpoena at a subsequent hearing who was in a similar situation to English at the time he was informally excused by the court: about to leave the state on a family trip.

Mrs. Crook’s attorneys also argued that Brantley had raised election funds via a letter written on behalf of former Fayette County Superior Court Judge Paschal A. English Jr., who recused himself from the case before he resigned in April of this year.

Judge Brantley, in a letter to the district court administrator, defended his different treatment of former jurist English and the defense witness, a child psychologist, because they emanated from different circumstances altogether.

Brantley also wrote that the fund-raising letter for former Judge English was actually authored by his son, Grant Brantley Jr., who was a real estate agent at the time, a fact that was included on that letter so as to further distinguish between himself and his son.

Brantley also denied that he violated any judicial canons by supporting a political campaign. He said that a recent campaign report attributing less than $100 in in-kind donations from him towards Judge English’s campaign was a clerical error on the part of Judge English’s campaign, as that contribution occurred several years ago before Brantley became a judge while he was still in private practice with an Atlanta law firm.

As the Crook v. Crook divorce case file has grown to be one of the largest in county history, it has struggled onward at an excruciatingly slow pace. The case has been put on a jury trial calendar five times, only to be pulled each time for one reason or another.

Meanwhile, the Crooks are sharing custody of their two children in a temporary arrangement while the children’s guardian ad litem has strongly urged a quick resolution of the case.

The case gained notoriety early this summer as it directly led to the sudden resignation of two of Fayette County’s four Superior Court judges. Judges Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. and English resigned in April after a Peachtree City divorce attorney, Susan Brown, came forward privately with allegations that Mrs. Crook had been unfairly treated in the case because of Caldwell’s improper overtures towards Brown.

The allegations later became public, weeks after Caldwell and English resigned from the bench. English, it was later revealed, also had been caught in the middle of a sexual tryst with another attorney, a local public defender, which had been discovered by a sheriff’s deputy who happened upon the couple inside a vehicle parked in a subdivision on the outskirts of Fayetteville in 2008.

It is not immediately known if the case will be assigned to another judge outside of the Griffin Judicial Circuit, or whether it might be assigned to one of Fayette’s two newest Superior Court jurists: Mack Crawford or Fletcher Sams, both of whom were selected by Gov. Sonny Perdue to replace English and Caldwell.

Because of the allegations filed against Caldwell in connection with the case, Fayette County’s two other Superior Court Judges, Christopher C. Edwards and Tommy R. Hankinson, have recused themselves from the case.

birdman
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Divorce is ugly but YOU PEOPLE.....

Divorce is never "fun." Too many get hurt and the kids get hurt the worst. But you people, dragging anyone's divorce in the public forum are as disgusting as the brain-dead idiots that read the tabloids. There are always two sides to every divorce. Be a friend to your friend. Listen with respect to each side if you are friends to the people involved. But show some dignity and respect and stop making accusations, insults, etc. in a public forum.

Some day the kids are going to have to face all the ugly innuendo and accusation in school.

What ever happened to privacy and dignity?

You should be ashamed.

scribbler
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NOT ASHAMED...

Birdman...

Historically, one of the painful / shameful parts of dissolving a marriage is that all of your laundry gets hung out on the clotheslines over there at the courthouse.

All of your personal business, indiscretions, and vitriol become part of the public record, and readable / writable be anyone interested in same.

Some days it's in the Enquirer, some days it's in The Citizen News, but there isn't much privacy or dignity in the process. Only picking up the pieces and remnants when it's all said and done.

[sound of judges hammer - BANG! BANG!]

This particular case is particularly nasty, twisty, slimey, and drawn-out beyond any semblance of civil relief; all those things pointed out in this thread.

However there seems to be a relevant sidebar of redemption in this case.

The MANY, and some EXTRAORDINARY MORAL FAILURES of our ethically-challenged judiciary (Caldwell, English, ... et als) have been brought to light and disqualified them from the bench.

No one is proud of this development... but I, for one, remain glad there has been a housecleaning in the courthouse. The cleansing and replacement process is painful enough -- but we would be worse off had these serious and systemic issues not been exposed.

The good ol' boy/girl system...
...swept it all under the bench waaaaay too long.

jmho....

Have a good day.

alihart
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Birdman I am ashamed

Yes, I am ashamed. Ashamed that this district & these judge$ have made a mockery of our judicial system. Ashamed that an outside judge is brought into the case and he has ties to one of the dismissed and disgraced judges. Ashamed that slimeball attorneys are able to build a practice based on twisting the rules and buying favors. IT HAS TO END for the betterment of Fayette County and our judicial system!

birdman
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Alihart, don't misunderstand me..

I agree, the judges in this county have always been "interesting." My point was the public comment about the divorce. How dare anonymous people make comments about the Crooks regarding "where the money comes from," or "these 2 crooks," or "she probably wants all the husband has.." etc. These are private people caught in a terribly ugly divorce. The parents are suffering, the kids are suffering, family is suffering, friends are suffering. So how about some respect and dignity. What the judges do is fair game. What the Crooks do is private and nobody's business. Let the Citizen print the slime, that's their thing. But how about keeping the slime out of the anonymous blogs.
That was my point.

suggarfoot
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what kind of business do the Cooks have?

where is the money coming from?

Ms Cook is pulling our judges out into the light of day and they are crumbling like the vampires on 'True Blood'. I feel for all the people who have stood in front of these judges hoping for justice. I was one of those people and I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart. I knew our justice system was a joke and I thank her for doing what I wish I had had the money to do. Engish, I hope you are reading this you ego inflated marshmallow!

suggarfoot
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I must say

there is no honor in business anymore. People use to be proud of their name and reputation. Now, it is all about how much you can do someone else out of and then brag about it. I don't know how some live with themselves.

HairPlugs
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ENOUGH with Judges who do not perform their job properly

These Judges have been paid very well by this district and across this state to perform their duties with certain standards. Over 16 Judges have been removed from the bench due to their behavior in the past 2 years in Georgia and most keeping their SIX FIGURE pensions to boot.

Brantley gave the disgraced English preferential treatment by not enforcing the subpoena. Since when does the law not apply to him?? Plenty of posters of this website were up in arms about this...

http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/06-25-2010/judge-caldwell%E2%80%99s-i...

Judges do not recuse themselves on a whim. Isn't Brantley the same guy that lied about being appointed by President Bush to a Federal Court??

These Judges work for us and need to act accordingly. I know if you and I kept screwing up at our jobs, we would be fired and certainly not receive SIX FIGURE pensions.

Sounds like they get their code of ethics from the fat cats in Washington DC.

Courthouserules
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hairplugs

Wouldn't it be heaven if judges were suddenly not partial and had no "friends?" Why we wouildn't even have to elect them...they would just walk in and take over with their halo shining as authority!

All they are concerned about is order and no crucial paperwork mistakes.

alihart
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@ court house rules

Your comment reads as if you think having a "partial judge" is just fine. Yeah, who needs the LAW to be the basis for the judge to make the decisions? LAWS... such pesky little things. Who needs those when you can BUY whatever you want from the disgraced judges??? Ask yourself, why did Greg Crook drive all the way to Thomaston to hire an attorney? He wanted to hire/buy the connection that Alan Connell had into the back door of Johnnie Caldwell's chambers.

Courthouserules
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alihart

I think you got messed up with this.

Impartial and partial are opposites!

If he has a "halo" that is real, he naturally would be impartial, wouldn't he?

Courthouserules
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Too much recusing?

Isn't that about 5 judges who have withheld themselves from judging in this Crook vs Crook case?

Sounds like "Doctor's Hospital" soaper and "Perry Mason" combined!

Why would so many judges be biased and have to recuse themselves from resolving this stupid case! What is to resolve anyway except kids and money?

It will go half and half anyway--half of the money and half time with kids!

Didn't one spend a lot and the other mess around?

I realize that whatever way a judge decides that he will lose half of the votes he may have gotten due to that!
Is it possible judges take into consideration votes?

I wonder if Katisha and Muhammad were getting divorced would there be any problem at all in coming to justice? Just dispose of it!

bladderq
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Crook v Crook/ Why We Care?

This seems like a waste of paper & ink. Now, if Judge Brantley had been yet another judge caught w/ his pants down; why is this news? It seems to be an unfortunate (for the children) case drawn out in public. The 1st poster seems to have an opinion but from what side? From what I have read all the delays are from the wife's side. Her attorney loses some issues, she claims sexual harassment (that she endured for yrs. "If you don't stop in 10 mins... I'm gonna scream"). Now the new attorney goes after the judge from 60 miles away. My point is that most of us don't care. If anyone cared for the kids, have the 3 attys (husband, wife & kids' ad litum) appear before a judge from Cairo (Karo) GA, w/ the 2 "expert" psychologist and make a decision before the kids ARE 21. Print it when there is a decision or another judge gets caught w/ his pants down.

moelarrycurly
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Crook vs. Crook

take these 2 crooks up into the Ga. mountains and lock 'em in a cabin till they come to an agreement. Unless, of course, you believe "once a crook, always a crook".

Oh, and "temporary arrangement for the kids"? Crap, they'll be 21 and on their own by the time these 2 parents show any maturity.

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