ATLANTA (CN) - Judge J. William Bass Sr. this week will tell Georgia's Commission on Judicial Qualifications why he should not be removed from the bench for alleged violations of several canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
The commission - three judges, two attorneys and two citizens - will convene Wednesday in Cobb County Court for the hearing against Bass, a Grady County State Court judge. It formally charged Bass with 10 violations of judicial canons in December 2012, and in an amended notice in February.
Allegations include charging criminal defendants illegal fines for "administrative costs" to boost state revenue, asking for a salary increase because he brought in more money from the fines, and nepotism: appointing his son to sit in for him.
Bass had 30 days to respond to the charges or to step down voluntarily.
He filed a response in January, denying each allegation.
According to the Amended Notice to Bass: "You violated Canon 2A ["judges shall respect and comply with the law"] of the Code of Judicial Conduct when you, without legal authority, ordered the collection of funds as "Administrative Costs" from criminal defendants." (Brackets in document.)
Bass relied: "(A) Judge Bass denies that he violated the disciplinary Canon. In way of further answer, if Judge Bass erred in collecting the costs, he erred as to the scope of his discretionary powers. "He did not intend to be disrespectful or fail to comply with the law.
"In addition, at the time of the acts alleged, Canon 2A provided that judges 'should' respect and comply with the law rather than shall. As such, any violation is not a binding rule upon which Judge Bass may be disciplined.
"(B) Judge Bass denies that he violated the disciplinary Canon. In way of further
answer, Canon 2B is misquoted. Canon 2B does not say 'to advance their private interests.' Instead, Canon 2B says "to advance the private interests of others."
Canon 2A is advisory. In addition, Canon 2A is misquoted."
Count One of the Amended Notice against Bass also states: "You violated Canon 2B ['judges shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge'] and/or Canon 2A ['judges ... shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary'] of the Code of Judicial Conduct when you wrote and, on or about July 3, 2012, delivered a document to the county governing authority requesting a salary increase. This document gave the appearance that your salary increase was warranted by the amount of funds you caused to be improperly collected by State Court." (Brackets and ellipsis in document.)
Bass answered that "the document was not written to advocate that he was entitled to a salary increase based upon the amount of funds collected. In fact, the letter specifically addressed that Judge Bass did not get concerned about raising money for the county. Instead, the emphasis was on the extra work he dedicated and his basic needs for an increase. The spin on the document asserted in (B) reflects the bias of the preparer of the Notice."