Georgia judge to step down

Amanda Williams is chief judge of south Georgia's Brunswick Circuit

Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011 8:32 AM
Last updated 10:31 AM
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ATLANTA — A powerful Georgia judge accused of abusing her authority by ordering drug court defendants to be jailed indefinitely and once putting a man behind bars because he used the term “baby momma” is set to resign next month, according to a letter obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

Judge Amanda Williams during a courtroom session  Chris Viola/ Morris News Service
Chris Viola/ Morris News Service
Judge Amanda Williams during a courtroom session

Superior Court Judge Amanda F. Williams said in the letter to Gov. Nathan Deal that she would resign on Jan. 2 after 21 years on the bench. She also said in a consent order with the Judicial Qualifications Commission that she would not seek another judicial office and that she would turn down senior judge status.

The move would resolve the misconduct accusations against Williams and comes more than a month after the explosive allegations were filed against her, according to the consent letter.

The commission’s complaint said Williams could be so harsh that in 2008 she ordered a drug-court defendant with a history of suicide attempts to be jailed in solitary confinement, with no access to visitors except a drug counselor, until the judge ordered her released. The complaint says the woman spent 73 days in solitary confinement and tried to kill herself while in jail.

The resignation letter was signed by Williams, and the consent order was signed by both her and her attorneys but not by commission officials. Williams and her attorney could not be reached for comment late Monday. Jeffrey Davis, the commission’s director, declined to comment.

The agreement was set to be made public on Tuesday, according to an official who asked to speak anonymously because the information had not yet been publicly released.

The agency’s misconduct complaint didn’t contain criminal charges. But the commission has the power to investigate judges and recommend that they be removed from office. The agency reports to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Williams, 64, is the chief judge of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit that includes Glynn, Camden, Appling, Wayne and Jeff Davis counties in southeast Georgia. She has been in the position since 1990 and oversees the largest of Georgia’s drug courts, designed to allow some offenders to avoid prison if they get clean through treatment programs.

Up until Monday, Williams seemed eager to defend herself. Her attorney John Ossick has said she would contest the allegations at a hearing early next year, and her formal response to the allegations was due by January.

The complaint says Williams violated state canons governing judicial conduct by ordering several other drug court defendants jailed until she saw fit to release them.

One man was sent to jail for two weeks for disputing what he believed was a false positive drug test. Another went before Williams to request to be excused from a Saturday class so he could attend a family function.

“Because of your disdain for the young man’s use of the term ‘baby momma,’ you ordered that the defendant be summarily jailed,” the complaint says.

The complaint also accuses Williams of nepotism, saying she presided over cases in which her husband, attorney James Williams, and other family members were involved as attorneys. She was also accused of using “rude, abusive, or insulting language” on the bench. In one instance, investigators said, Williams screamed at a person she saw chuckling in her courtroom.

Accusations against Williams surfaced as she sought and won re-election to a sixth judicial term last year. Her critics gained national exposure in May when several of Williams’ drug defendants were featured in an hour-long story on the public radio show “This American Life.”

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eb97 12/20/11 - 09:48 am
If there were more judges

If there were more judges that came down hard on criminals, just maybe we would have less crime if the criminals knew the harshness of the punishment.

urright 12/20/11 - 09:58 am
Drug Courts are a wonderful

Drug Courts are a wonderful alternative. I'm sorry she's making some people think less of the system by her abuse of her power. She likened herself to God on the radio show and always had an entouage when in public. Thank our God for Judge Blanchard and the Augusta Judicial Circuit Drug Court!

Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 12/20/11 - 11:20 am
Thanks, Atlanta FBI's

Thanks, Atlanta FBI's Judicial Corruption Task Force.

raul 12/20/11 - 11:55 am
Her license to practice law

Her license to practice law should be taken from her.

Patty-P 12/20/11 - 12:07 pm
There are others that need to

There are others that need to step down from their superior court high horse. Those judges that make up the rules as they go along.

Insider Information
Insider Information 12/20/11 - 12:29 pm
It is one thing to be tough

It is one thing to be tough on crime. It is quite another to break the law in an effort to be tough on crime. And, it is even worse to get tough on those who committed no crime.

americafirst 12/20/11 - 12:50 pm
This article only gives a few

This article only gives a few examples of the abuses by this Judge. She dropped serious charges against a son of a prominent lawyer friend of hers, put the son's wife in jail and awarded custody of the children to the son after dropping charges against him for savagly beating his kids. She admitted to her court personnel she was only doing it as a favor to the prominent lawyer. Many other abuses were charged as well. Its a shame if all this is forgotten just in exchange for her resignation.

dizzy dictator
dizzy dictator 12/20/11 - 08:59 pm
Sounds like a real out of

Sounds like a real out of control "Judge Judy" with a bad snippy twist!

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