The Judicial Qualifications Commission investigator whose probes have ended dozens of judicial careers since 2008 will no longer roam the state in search of wayward jurists.
Instead, Richard Hyde will be a member of the JQC itself, the agency that assesses how allegations and evidence against Georgia’s judges should be handled. Governor Nathan Deal tapped Hyde to the JQC on Friday.
Chattahoochee Superior Court Judge John Allen, who chairs the commission, said Hyde would have to relinquish his investigative duties in order to serve as a member. “It’s a policy on our part as commissioners that we don’t investigate,” said Allen. The JQC will launch a search for another investigator, Allen said. In the meantime, JQC Director Jeff Davis, who used to handle disciplinary complaints at the State Bar of Georgia, will serve as acting investigator.
Hyde will replace Atlanta businessman Jack Winter, who has served two four-year terms as one of two citizen members of the seven-member panel, which also includes two judges and three lawyers.
In addition to his JQC duties, Hyde is an investigator for Balch & Bingham. A former policeman, television news producer and investigator for then-Attorney General Michael Bowers, now a B&B partner, Hyde is a good choice for the slot, Allen said.
“It will allow us a great deal of comfortable continuity, if you will,” said Allen. “He knows what the processes and procedures are.”
In an emailed statement, Davis echoed Allen’s praises.
“Given Richard’s breadth of experience as a public corruption investigator with the State Attorney General, his recent investigation of teachers in the Atlanta schools cheating scandal, and his tireless work investigating judicial misconduct, it is clear that the Governor could not have made a better choice than Richard Hyde to represent the interests of the citizens of this State on the Commission,” wrote Davis. “It is an outstanding appointment which will ensure continued public confidence in a fair and impartial judiciary.”
Hyde declined to comment on his appointment.