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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Says Conspiracy Led to His Sudden Removal

(CN) - A former county magistrate court judge in Georgia claims in a lawsuit that he was fired as the result of a conspiracy among state Superior Court judges who were angered that his refusal to grant illegal arrest warrants in his courtroom increased their workload.

In his complaint, which was filed in the federal court in Macon, Ga., William Hughley says that he was hired as an associate magistrate judge for Upson County in 1991.

Hughley, who is black, says at the time of his hire there was a federal order in effect mandating the appointment of minorities as associate magistrate judges. He also says he served as a magistrate judge without his appointment being formally consented to or approved by state Superior Court judges from 1991 until his removal in 2013.

Hughley states that "As judge, Plaintiff would have a police officer named Phillip Tobin (hereinafter 'Officer Tobin') seek warrants in Plaintiffs courtroom."

"On many occasions, Officer Tobin would seek criminal arrest warrants from Plaintiff without providing any probably cause," he continues. "Often times, Officer Tobin would give false or fabricated evidence, which led Plaintiff to deny arrest warrants."

When scolding the officer in open court didn't deter his alleged behavior, Hughley says he and Chief Magistrate Judge Danny Bentley met with the chief of police to explain their experiences and concern with Officer Tobin.

When those concerns were ignored, Judge Bentley banned Tobin from the magistrate court, Hughley says, explaining that this is when his real troubles began.

As a result of the ban, Officer Tobin now had to get his criminal warrants from the defendant Superior Court Judges Christopher Edwards, W. Fletcher Sams, Tommy Hankinson and Robert Mallory Crawford.

Hughley says the defendants were upset with Tobin's ban from the magistrate court because it increased their workloads, and he says, they soon after began conspiring to plan his removal.

"On or about July 23, 2013, Plaintiff received a letter from the Judicial Qualifications Commission questioning his appointment," Hughley says. "Upon information and belief, The Board, Judge Edwards, Judge Sams, Judge Hankinson, and Judge Crawford intentionally made false complaints about Plaintiff to the JQC ... [and] falsely stated that plaintiff was not properly admitted as a magistrate judge."

After a letter was sent to Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards requesting that he accept plaintiff's appointment, Edwards initiated a vote among the other Upson County Superior Court judges. In August 2013, plaintiff received a letter stating that his judgeship was not approved by the majority vote.

Hughley says Judge Crawford specifically holds racial animosity towards plaintiff because the Board was required to hire him in the first place.

Hughley claims he was fired by the disgruntled, all Caucasian Board of Commissioners because he is black and refused to allow Officer Tobin in his courtroom to obtain warrants.

He seeks actual, nominal and liquidated damages, back pay and reinstatement to his position on multiple civil rights claims and claimed violations of the 2nd and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

His is represented by Michael Mondy of Atlanta, Ga.

Attorneys for the defendants could not be reached for comment.

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