BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- The woman named as victim in an aggressive driving charge leveled Monday against city court Judge Andrew Lakin has applied for a good behavior warrant against him.
Kimberly Williams, 31, applied for the warrant Tuesday before Camden County Magistrate Jennifer Lewis, who was sitting in Glynn County. Should a warrant be issued, Lakin would be forbidden from having any contact with Williams and could be arrested should he violate it.
Lewis agreed to give Williams a hearing, but it could be assigned to another judge outside the Brunswick Judicial Circuit. That was the case Monday when Effingham County Chief Magistrate Scott Hinson conducted a probable cause hearing and issued the aggressive driving charge against Lakin. The charge is an aggravated misdemeanor that could result in a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The investigative report says Lakin followed Williams nine miles into and through Brunswick, sometimes four to eight feet behind her and sometimes waving his arm at her and shouting as he matched her every move in traffic.
Meanwhile, Savannah lawyer Thomas R. Taggart wrote a two-page response to the charges in which he said that Lakin was well within his rights to follow Williams, who he accused of reckless driving, nearly running Lakin off the road and speeding through a school zone.
Taggart asserted that Williams recklessly cut in front of Lakin twice and then “sped right into a school zone’’ at speeds between 50 and 60 mph in Lakin’s estimation.
Lakin’s sole interest was to get officers to stop Williams from speeding through a school zone, he said. Lakin could not get Williams’ tag number and report her to police because her Honda Pilot had a paper tag from a dealership, he said.
He also said that Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering was wrong to investigate the case because Williams is married to a county police officer and because Lakin did nothing wrong.
“Andy was well within his legal rights to follow this woman. The chief knows that,’’ Taggart said.
Had Williams been in fear of her life while Lakin pursued her, as she told the police, she would have stopped at the federal building where she works to seek help.
“There would have been 15 guards down there to protect her from this dangerous, dangerous criminal,’’ Taggart said. “She never stopped. She never pulled into the parking lot.”
There are, however, seldom if ever 15 guards of any type in the building. There are a few court security officers on duty and the U.S. Marshals Service has an office there.
Taggart called the investigation corrupted and said Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett should not have signed an order disqualifying all the judges in the circuit and asking for the appointment of an outside judge. Scarlett’s secretary, Michelle Doering, is the chief’s wife, Taggart said, and if anyone signed the order it should have been Chief Judge E.M. Wilkes.
Scarlett said he spoke with Wilkes before signing the order, which adhered precisely to the law and court procedures.
“When it was presented to me that it was a sitting judge in the circuit, the law was very clear on what we had to do. Everybody is disqualified [from hearing it.] It was referred to the District Court judge in Savannah for appointment,’’ Scarlett said.
Of Taggart’s assertion, Scarlett said, “Anyone making that claim clearly lacks a knowledge of the procedures and the law on the issuance of warrants.”
As for the assertion that Williams was speeding through a school zone on U.S. 341, Doering said he found no evidence of that.
“If there was, I would have charged her,’’ he said.
He called Taggart’s remarks “disparaging words without proof,’’ and added, “I take no offense. He’s a lawyer doing what he thinks he needs to do.”
Doering said he asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia State Patrol to handle the case, but that the GBI declined and the state patrol said it would have to send an investigator from Atlanta.
“I didn’t think that was practical,’’ Doering said, so he undertook the investigation.
The fact that the complainant was the wife of an officer in his department did not disqualify the case for investigation and charges, he said.