We received an email from Lee Benedict of Martinez about complaints he filed with the Judicial Qualifications Commission about Judges Bobby Christine and Willie Saunders. Amen! We have been asking for people to do this for months and at least one person did. The email was sent to Mike Wynn of the Chronicle, Metro Spirit, us, NBC Augusta, WRDW, and WFXG. Benedict wrote that…actually, we’ll just copy and paste it below.
Good afternoon. Attached you will find a letter from the Judicial Qualifications Commission, State of Georgia, to me, dated August 15, 2011. The letter explains the Commission’s findings regarding three (3) formal complaints I filed; two regarding Judge Bobby Christine, and one regarding Judge Willie Saunders. The two against Judge Christine pertained to 1) being State Representative Ben Harbin’s Campaign Committee Chairperson for several years, and, 2) formally endorsing Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross for reelection. The complaint against Judge Saunders pertains to his being State Representative Ben Harbin’s Campaign Committee Treasurer for several years (I was present at an event in which Judge Saunders spoke in support of Representative Harbin’s reelection bid).
Judges Shall Refrain from Political Activity Inappropriate to Their Judicial Office.
A. Political Conduct in General.
(1) A judge or a candidate* for public election* to judicial office shall not:
(a) act or hold himself or herself out as a leader or hold any office in a political organization*;
(b) make speeches for a political organization or candidate or publicly endorse a candidate for public office;
I had mentioned some of the above in a Letter to the Editor of The Columbia County New-Times several months ago, which, was not published. However, a scaled-down version was published last month. A local anonymous blog has reported the events, but that is all. That being said, I was not looking for a media blitz about the judges’ behavior, but a modicum of journalistic integrity was anticipated.
I filed the complaints after neither the local media nor the local political apparatus uttered a word about not one but two local judges violating, and arrogantly so, basic judicial rules regarding political involvement. Representative Harbin has since replaced his campaign committee, and for the record, I do not believe that he knew the judges were in violation of their own code for all of those years.
The Commission’s letter really sums up why the canon exists, and what baffles me to this day, is how these judges could be so brazen, cocky, and arrogant as to flaunt such egregious violations of rules that all judges in Georgia must adhere to.
It was not my intent to contact you regarding this matter. The complaints were filed, and my receipt of the letter led me to believe that Judge Christine and Judge Saunders had been notified by the Commission about its findings. Judge Christine was the guest speaker at the Columbia County Republican Party of Georgia’s monthly breakfast held on August 27th. I had hoped, and quite honestly expected, for him to inform the group, a friendly audience, of what he had done. However, for reason(s) only known to him, he demurred from doing such. Therefore, I chose to send this to you. I am sending this to all of you…all of the local media outlets that have a contact email on their respective company’s website (I do not want to be accused of only selecting certain outlets), because we cannot have judges who make decisions regarding our lives running amok and violating simple, basic tenets of the system. If someone makes a mistake, fine, mistakes happen, fix it and then move on. But these were no simple mistakes. In my estimation, they were willful, arrogant, politically-motivated violations of judicial canon, and reflective of people who should not be affiliated with the legal/judicial system. It is the legal system, not, the political system, and their judgements and motives must now and forever more be suspect.
Thank you all very much for your time and attention.
It must have been difficult for Benedict to file the complaints, let alone send this to the media. As we understand it, Benedict and Christine are friends, or at least friendly and civil to each other. Christine is a Republican and US Army reservist. Benedict is a Republican and former US Army active duty member. We wondered why he would go to this length, but after reading his email again, it all makes sense now. It is nice to see a staunch Republican attempting to police his own partymembers. And let’s remember who started this…Bobby Christine. He’s the one who got up there and endorsed Ron Cross and we’re sure that he knew judicial canon prohibited it. But he did it anyway. He knew that being Ben Harbin’s chairman was a no-no. But he did it anyway. Same thing for Willie Saunders. So let’s not go after Benedict. We have called him out on a few things, but this, he gets a Patriot vote and Christine and Saunders get a Pinhead vote.
Why has the media been silent on this for years? Barry Paschal knew but chose to censor the newsworthy information in a show of allegiance to Christine. Since we mentioned it, let’s discuss it – certain media people have taken jabs at us for being anonymous as is their right. To that we say:
- Is this America? If it is, we have that right, just as Barry Paschal has the right to censor Judge Bobby L. Christine’s violations of judicial canon.
- If our being anonymous is such a big deal, why? Do you intend to retaliate against those who speak the truth about local government and those who run it?
- Our being anonymous is such an issue, but the media refuses to report about local judges violating canon. What’s worse?
- The media refuses to report about local judges violating canon, but devotes 2, more actually, stories about a local private citizen spelling taxpayers taxpayors. What’s worse?
- The media refuses to report about local judges violating canon, but devotes 2, more actually, stories about a local private citizen spelling taxpayers taxpayors and who he lives with. What’s worse?
- Our being anonymous is such an issue, but did the media ever make an issue about newspapers’ “Our Opinion”? “The Insider”? We don’t know who writes those things. Shall we continue? What’s worse?
- Our being anonymous is such an issue, but we have never been challenged on what we report. We report the truth and back it up with links, names, dates…So if that’s all you got, WHOA!
This is America! We will continue to report the truth while enjoying anonymity and not worrying about the local political party goons messing with us for speaking our minds and telling the truth.