Judge Amanda Williams of Brunswick has announced she will be retiring on January 2, 2012. She has also agreed to never seek or hold judicial office again. This dramatic exit was due to what the Atlanta Journal Constitution characterizes as a “tyrannical” reign over her courtroom.
Judge Williams has presided over the Glynn County drug court for the past 12 years. She is Chief Judge of the five-county Brunswick Judicial Circuit and first won election to the Superior Court over 21 years ago. But she had recently come under serious scrutiny.
The state Judicial Qualifications Commission filed twelve ethics charges against Williams in November and filed more just last week. The accusations range from jailing drug court participants for indefinite periods, allowing attorneys who were related to her to represent clients in her courtroom, and “behaving in a tyrannical manner”.
The commission was expected to hear the case in a trial this year. Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears and former state Attorney General Mike Bowers were set to prosecute the case against her. Sears remarked that Williams’ decision to retire was the “best resolution I could have hoped for.”
Williams seemed to take a volatile approach to her judgeship, jailing one offender for using the term “baby momma” in her courtroom. On another date, when a group of juvenile probationers were present, Williams chastised one girl for laughing in court. When she began to cry, Williams ordered her handcuffed and removed from the courtroom.
Another, more serious case, involved a woman who had known suicidal tendencies. Williams ordered her jailed indefinitely with “total restriction”, meaning no visitors or phone calls. She attempted suicide in the jail two weeks later.
Judges’ attitudes and manners vary greatly from courtroom to courtroom, and that’s nothing new. But being unethical is inappropriate and could cost a judge the bench. Dramatic behavior like this isn’t common at all, though judges often say and do things that aren’t necessarily welcome or wanted, from the point of view of the defendant.
When you are charged with a crime, facing the judge is one of the most intimidating parts. Having a criminal defense attorney on your side can make it a little less scary.
Whether you are guilty of a crime or believe you are wrongly accused of an offense, a defense lawyer can help advocate for your best interests when dealing with the judge and the prosecutor. Contact our offices to see if we can help you with your case.