Former Ga. judges lose law licenses
ATLANTA (Legal Newsline) - The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday accepted former U.S. District Judge Jack Camp's voluntary surrender of his law license and disbarred former Alapaha Circuit Superior Court Judge Brooks E. Blitch III.
Camp, who has been a member of the Georgia Bar since 1975, admitted that in November he pled guilty to aiding and abetting a felon's posssession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, and embezzlement/theft of public property, according to the Court's two-page order.
According to The Associated Press, Camp aided and abetted a felon's possession of cocaine when he bought drugs for a stripper. He also illegally gave the stripper his government-issued laptop.
The aiding and abetting offense is a felony violation of United States Code, while the remaining offenses are misdemeanor violations.
The Georgia Bar asserted that it was "in the best interests" of the Bar and the public for the Court to accept Camp's petition for voluntary surrender of his license.
In the case of Blitch -- who has been a member of the Bar since 1961 and served as a superior court judge for 27 years -- he entered a guilty plea to honest services fraud conspiracy in 2009. He was sentenced to three years probation and fined $100,100, according to the Court's five-page order.
After learning of Blitch's guilty plea, the Bar obtained a special master. Blitch filed a petition for voluntary discipline, seeking a one-year suspension.
The special master rejected the petition and held a hearing. Afterwards, the special master issued his report and recommendation.
The special master held that Blitch's plea arose from a failure on Blitch's part to abide by certain laws relating to ex parte communications and to notifying victims upon a proposed change of sentence of a criminal offender; that Blitch was never accused of "selling his office" or acting corruptly in a traditional sense, i.e., he was not accused of receiving or demanding or requiring anything for personal benefit.
However, Blitch's plea "nevertheless" involved allegations of judicial misconduct that took it out of the norm of "attorney" misconduct, the special master said.
The special master concluded that a three-year suspension was the appropriate discipline. The Bar filed exceptions urging disbarment.
The state's high court agreed that disbarment was appropriate.
"In this case, it is undisputed that Blitch chose to plead guilty to a federal felony offense and that the charge to which he admitted guilt related directly to the manner in which he performed his duties as a sitting superior court judge," it said.
"It hardly bears stating that a judge occupies a unique and crucial position of power, trust and responsibility in our society. We cannot rightfully expect members of the public to respect the law and remain confident in the integrity and impartiality of our judiciary where judges themselves do not respect and follow the law.
"No matter how one looks at this case, Blitch's felony conviction deals a serious blow to the public's confidence in the legal system and, given his position as a judicial officer, his admitted violation of Rule 8.4 (a) (2) warrants a severe level of discipline despite the various mitigating factors urged below."
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at email@example.com.