State of Georgia

Open Meeting Minutes

August 21, 2020

This meeting of the Investigative Panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission of the State of Georgia was held via Zoom. Mr. Pope Langdale chaired the meeting and Ms. Phyllis Motes served as Recording Secretary.

Commission Members Present:

Mr. Pope Langdale
Judge Stacey Hydrick
Mr. Bob Barr
Mr. Dane Kirby
Judge Verda Colvin
Mr. Warren Selby

Others Present:

Mr. Chuck Boring – Director
Ms. Courtney Veal – Deputy Director
Ms. Lance Alford – Investigator
Phyllis Motes – Case Manager

Chairman’s Comments:

Chairman Langdale called the meeting to order and determined that a quorum was present. Chairman Langdale said he did not have any particular comments. He then stated the closed minutes do not quite reflect some of the matters discussed at the last meeting.

Chairman Langdale stated that Mr. Boring, Ms. Veal, and Mr. Alford are getting a lot of work done considering the current climate created by the pandemic. He feels they are moving through the cases at a good pace with the exception of a couple of cases. He stated that staff need to be mindful of matters that have been on the docket for an extended period of time, whether in full investigation or preliminary investigation, and get work them resolved.

Chairman Langdale then began a discussion about recent practical difficulties with some of the JQC Rules. He cited the recent decision of the Hearing Panel to reject the Discipline by Consent Agreement in the Judge Taliaferro matter. In discussing potential scenarios with that matter as we proceed, he gave the example that the Panel could come up with another sanction, have it accepted by the Hearing Panel, and then it could be rejected by the Supreme Court. He said he wished the Rules allowed the Hearing Panel to communicate to the Investigative Panel about changes which would make a proposed sanction acceptable, then allow the staff to make the changes and resubmit the proposal, instead of having to start from the beginning.

Mr. Barr asked if it would help, regarding the statutes and the Rules, for there to be a stricter time period imposed for decisions made by the Hearing Panel.

The Panel and the Director discussed the Rules issue further. Mr. Barr asked if any of the current Panel members were present when the Rules were written other than Mr. Hyde. He then asked if it would be appropriate for Chairman Langdale, the Director and Mr. Hyde to meet to discuss why the Rules were set up as they are and if consideration was given to the problems that Chairman Langdale has identified. Mr. Barr then stated that it makes the Panel look bad when matters drag on for years. Mr. Barr suggested that the Director draft a proposed amendment to the Rules, send it to the Panel for review, and then send it to the appropriate parties.

Judge Hydrick moved the Investigative Panel draw up a proposed amendment to the Rules which would set a time limit on the Hearing Panel ruling on matters. Mr. Barr seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Director’s Reports:

The Director began his report by giving an update on the most recent Judicial Emergency Order, and he reported that most things were the same status quo. He stated the Supreme Court is currently exploring how to begin utilizing grand juries again. They may appear virtually. The Director also reported the JQC is continuing to receive complaints about judges not following the current Order, but he said that most of the complaints are not valid.

Chairman Langdale interrupted the Director and stated that he had forgotten to approve the minutes from the previous meeting. Judge Colvin moved the minutes be adopted as presented, and Judge Hydrick seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously, and Chairman Langdale turned the meeting back over to the Director.

Mr. Boring then reminded the Panel that the next meeting is scheduled for September 18, 2020, and it is tentatively set to be held at Taylor English. He also asked that the Panel discuss whether the Hearing Panel should be invited to the September meeting. If so, then he felt they should discuss the formal advisory project and proposed amendments to the JQC Rules. He also suggested the Panel should consider making a list of the Rules that may need amending. He then asked the Panel for their input.

The Panel then discussed. Judge Hydrick stated it was a good idea to invite the Hearing Panel to the September meeting. Judge Colvin said she knew the Panel had people to see in September, so she was not sure about inviting the Hearing Panel at that time. She also felt that the Panel needed to be cognizant of the time. Mr. Selby asked what would be discussed with the Hearing Panel that was not addressed in the previous meeting.

Mr. Boring said he wanted to speak to the Hearing Panel about proposed amendments to the Rules and procedures that are problematic. The Director added that inviting the Hearing Panel could be delayed until the October meeting since we were planning for a judge to appear at the September meeting.

Chairman Langdale said he felt the Panel should delay inviting the Hearing Panel because meeting with a judge and the Hearing Panel could potentially eat up a lot of time. He added the Hearing Panel should be invited to attend a meeting when judges would not be appearing.

Mr. Selby asked if it was possible to schedule a separate meeting with the Hearing Panel in September.

The Director volunteered to send an email out to the Hearing Panel members to find out their availability for a separate meeting in September.

The Director then moved to discussion of the creation of a list for conflicts and recusals. He stated Ms. Motes has been working on the project, and the list would aid the Investigative Panel in being aware of attorney/complainants that may come before the judicial members and attorney members who have cases before judges who have pending complaints.

The Director then updated the Panel on the search for a legal intern. He stated that recently got Dean Rutledge’s number from Pope, but Dean Rutledge has been very busy with the start of school. The Director and Deputy Director have settled on a stipend for two interns to work on the project with Judge McBurney. The Director is waiting for Dean Rutledge’s return call so that he can coordinate with Judge McBurney.

Judge Hydrick asked if Dean Rutledge was at Georgia.

The Director stated that he was at Georgia.

Judge Hydrick then asked what about Georgia State9 She said they want to do something with the JQC too.

Mr. Boring then announced that a legal intern has been hired from Georgia State. She will work between 10-20 hours per week. and she will be paid a stipend for the semester.

Mr. Barr asked if the legal intern would be s1gn111g a Confidentiality Agreement. Mr. Boring said she would.
Mr. Boring then directed the Panel’s attention to the July Financial Report located on Box. He added that most of the financial expenses of the move came out of the 2020 budget, so he feels the JQC is in good shape.

The Director then moved to informational items. He stated the staff has begun the migration process with Clio, and that it would take approximately a week.

The Director then stated that was all he had for the open meeting.

Chairman Langdale asked if anyone had any other business they would like to discuss. He stated he would entertain a motion to close the meeting.

Mr. Barr then asked if Ms. Motes could include language in the minutes that the Rule 29 Committee would continue through the general election.

Chairman Langdale agreed to include the requested language. He also thanked the Rule 29 Committee for their hard work.

Mr. Selby then asked the Chairman if the Panel could confirm the remaining dates on the calendar through the end of the year as he may have a conflict. Chairman Langdale agreed to do so. Mr. Selby then listed each of the remaining meeting dates on his calendar which Chairman Langdale confirmed.

The Panel then began a discussion regarding the December meeting. It was decided that a decision would be made about holding a December meeting in November.

Mr. Selby thanked Chairman Langdale for the clarification of meeting dates.

There being no further old or new business for discussion, the Open Meeting was adjourned.