JQC adds charges to Grady County judge
4:44 pm, February 4th, 2013
The Judicial Qualifications Commission has issued new charges against a Grady County state court judge, accusing him of improperly instructing county lawyers to drop cases against defendants.
The new charges—filed Monday against Judge J. William Bass Sr. at the Supreme Court of Georgia—also accuse the judge of trying defendants who failed to appear in court in absentia rather than issue bench warrants for their arrests.
Bass, a Cairo attorney who has served as president of the Council of State Court Judges, is slated to face a JQC tribunal next
In December, the JQC charged Bass with multiple violations of the state judicial ethics canons. They included improperly allowing his social relationships, including his Facebook friends, to influence his judicial conduct. The JQC also said Bass illegally fined criminal defendants hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost county revenues and increase his own salary; verbally attacked people in his courtroom; and retaliated against county contractors whom he had accused of supporting his
political opponent in the 2010 election.
The December charges also claimed Bass improperly appointed his son, with whom he shares a law practice in Cairo, to preside over state court judicial proceedings whenever the judge was not available.
Bass has previously declined to comment on the charges. He could not be reached for comment Monday. Bass’s attorney, Christopher Townley, was unavailable for comment Monday. In December, Townley told the Daily Report that some of the JQC’s allegations were false and others were “out of context” and “making a mountain out of a molehill.” Townley also told the JQC that Bass would not resign and intended to fight the charges.
The new charges claim that in October 2009, Bass conducted a bench trial of defendant Rene Billiot in absentia after Billiot failed to appear for court. Bass, according to the JQC, “had not determined adequately the reasons for the failure of the defendant to appear for the trial.” The new charges cite the Billiot case as “an example” of conduct that
was not limited to a single defendant.