Judge investigated over warrant use
ATLANTA — A judicial watchdog agency is investigating a judge accused of pre-signing warrants for law enforcement officials.
District Attorney Bert Poston said the Judicial Qualification Commission is investigating Chief Magistrate Bryant Cochran of Murray County.
Police must explain to a judge why they believe a suspect likely committed a crime before getting a warrant. If a judge believes there is probable cause, he then signs the warrant.
Cochran’s attorney, Christopher Townley, said that if the public defender’s office thinks there were illegal warrants, they will be “greatly disappointed.”
Cochran had already been accused of propositioning a woman who appeared before him.
Chief justice wants options beyond jail
ATLANTA — Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein is a big advocate of finding alternatives to locking people up and thinks the state is on the right track with its focus on criminal justice reform.
“We need to be open to new ideas rather than just put them away in prison as long as you can,” she said in an interview last week. “If you put someone in the prison system, you effectively have harmed their ability to get work, and you probably have harmed them socially.”
She mentioned one time as a DeKalb County Superior Court judge in which she had to hand down a mandatory minimum sentence of five years to a 17-year-old who used a plastic pistol to steal a jacket.
“I had no leeway,” she said. “Now, when that young man comes out … it’s going to be very difficult for him to be successful in life.”