Wait…The Judge And The Defense Attorney Were Having An Affair, And The Defendants Were Convicted Anyway? So What’s The Problem?

"Yes, counsel, I am throwing the book at your clients because I love you."*

“Yes, counsel, I am throwing the book at your clients because I love you.”*

The Georgia Court of Appeals has ordered new trials for five men convicted of serious crimes in Fayette County because their trial judge was having an undisclosed affair with defendants’ public defender.

Doesn’t  that seem strange to you? After all, the clients of the judge’s secret love were convicted and sentenced. Why should they get the benefit of  new trials when the judge’s evident conflict and judicial misconduct didn’t benefit them or harm them in any way (unless a judge making sure his lover’s clients get prison time is a quirky way to say “I love you” in the Peach Tree State). This isn’t like the horrendous Charles Dean Hood case in Texas, where a man was sentenced to death after a trial in which the state prosecutor was sleeping with the judge.

The Georgia judge-lawyer affair (and I thought Steven Bochco was making it all up!) came to light in 2010. Paschal English, who subsequently resigned as chief Superior Court judge, had been involved in a romantic relationship with assistant public defender Kimberly Cornwell, who has also moved on to new pursuits, ideally those that don’t require trust or ethics. A three judge panel recently agreed that this relationship, undisclosed and a clear cut ethical violation for both judge and attorney, required that there be new trials for Christopher Wakefield and Travion Willis on charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and other crimes; William Nutt for aggravated child molestation and aggravated sexual battery; Rashad Arnold for burglary; and Calvin Boynton for armed robbery, aggravated assault, possession of a sawed-off shotgun and drug possession.

Hmmmm… Continue reading