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U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Thursday that her office will not object to motions for new sentences brought by 16 defendants punished by ex-Judge Jack T. Camp. Yates said witnesses in the drug case in which Camp last month pleaded guilty said he may have been biased against black defendants or impaired by drug use. The 16 defendants were sentenced by Camp between May and late September, Yates said at a press conference. That was the period during which Camp has acknowledged that he “on a roughly biweekly basis … engaged in the illegal use of controlled substances” including marijuana, powdered cocaine, Xanax, Roxycontin, and other unknown prescription painkillers,” Yates said. “I’ve been here 21 years, and we’ve never encountered anything like this before,” said Yates. “It’s hard to quantify how big this is.” Camp, she said, told her office he did not make the statements the witnesses attributed to him and denied any drug impairment while performing his judicial duties. “He further denied ever taking any judicial action based on racial bias,” Yates said. Camp, 67, pleaded guilty on Nov. 19 to aiding a felon — an exotic dancer with whom he’d had a sexual relationship — in possessing illegal drugs, to converting government property for private use and to his own possession of illegal drugs. He was arrested in October during a sting operation when he attempted to purchase cocaine and Roxycontin from an undercover FBI agent. Camp resigned his judgeship in the course of his plea hearing. Yates, speaking from the federal courthouse’s first floor lobby, noted that her office recused from Camp’s prosecution. But she added that prosecutors in the Northern District of Georgia were “concerned that there may be facts underlying the charges or learned during the course of the investigation that call into question the manner in which Camp performed his judicial duties and should be disclosed to defendants prosecuted before Camp.” As a result, she said, her office launched its own investigation and contacted the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, known as PIN, which prosecuted the former jurist, and asked for information relevant to Camp’s discharge of his judicial duties. Two witnesses, she said, also provided information. A woman Yates identified only as “Witness 1″ said Camp disliked an African-American man, identified as “Individual A,” with whom the woman had a personal relationship. The woman, Yates said, met Camp in approximately May 2010. A reporter asked Yates if Witness 1 were the exotic dancer who, as a confidential informant, tipped the FBI to Camp’s illegal activities. The informant was a woman Camp also met in May 2010, according to the government’s initial complaint in the criminal case. Yates, with a small smile, declared she could not go beyond what she had already said. According to Yates, who read from a prepared statement that later was given to reporters, Witness 1 said Camp told her about a case involving an African-American male and white female co-defendant. Camp, according to Witness 1, said he “sentenced the male defendant to 30 to 40 years because the African-American male had a personal relationship with the white female co-defendant and it reminded him of the relationship between Witness 1, who is white, and Individual A,” who is African-American, Yates said. “According to Witness 1, Camp told her that when African-American men appeared before him, he had a difficult time adjudicating their cases and specifically determining their sentences because he could not differentiate them from Individual A in light of his feelings about Individual A,” Yates said. “Witness 1 also stated that she had recorded this conversation but was unable to find the recording.” The confidential informant in Camp’s criminal case also recorded conversations with the judge, according to documents in the criminal action against the former jurist. That confidential informant has been identified as exotic dancer Sherry Ann Ramos by the website The Smoking Gun. Neither the government nor Camp’s attorney, William A. Morrison, has confirmed that Ramos is the confidential informant, though Morrison has said the public facts of Ramos’ criminal history match those of the confidential informant’s. Yates also said that a second witness, identified only as “Witness 2,” stated that “during a contentious telephone conversation about Witness 1′s lease, Camp used a racial epithet to refer to Individual A. A colleague of Witness 2, who overheard a portion of the conversation, said that she did not hear Camp use any racial epithet.” The statements about Witness 2 match what the Daily Report learned in an October conversation with a woman who said she owns a condominium in Union City where Ramos used to live. The woman, who spoke to the Daily Report on the condition she not be identified, said a man identifying himself as Camp contacted her on May 21 after she threatened to evict Ramos for some damage Ramos allegedly did to the unit. The man calling himself Camp, she said, told her he was Ramos’ lawyer. She said he asked about Ramos’ African-American companion and said of him, “I don’t like ni—-s.” Camp’s lawyer, Morrison, was not immediately available Thursday afternoon and could not be reached for comment by press time. Yates said her office had identified a case that came before Camp for resentencing “that is similar to some aspects of the facts identified by Witness 1, but Camp did not actually impose a new sentence.” Yates also said Witness 1 said that Camp told her about a case where “a female defendant reminded him of Witness 1, so he gave her a 12-month sentence instead of the suggested 60-month sentence.” Yates said, “We identified a case during this period where Camp sentenced a white female defendant to a 15-month prison term instead of the 30 to 37 months recommended by the Sentencing Guidelines.” “When our office confronted Camp with the above allegations, he said that he did not make the statements attributed to him by either Witness 1 or Witness 2,” Yates said. On learning about the U.S. attorney’s Office’s statement that it will not object if defendants want to reopen cases, former federal prosecutor Wilmer “Buddy” Parker of Maloy Jenkins Parker said, “I don’t think [the U.S. attorney] would have had the obligation to re-open these cases anyway. Certainly defendants may have negotiated a plea agreement and been sentenced accordingly and may not have felt they were mistreated by Judge Camp.” Parker, who now handles criminal defense work, said “From what I’ve been led to believe in conversations with people, there has never been a suggestion that in his judicial activities [Judge Camp] committed criminal wrongdoing. It’s not necessarily criminal wrongdoing that the U.S. attorneys’ office is addressing. It’s judicial impropriety. … At the end of the day there has got to be evidence to support impairment. Impairment doesn’t have to come from controlled substances. It can come from excessive consumption of alcohol.” He also said, “I suspect that [the U.S. attorney] is going to entertain allowing pro se motions. It’s a good question whether they’re entitled to appointed counsel.” Paul S. Kish of Kish & Lietz, a criminal defense lawyer who used to be a federal public defender, said he believed that if a defendant couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer to reopen his case, that defendant could make an argument that the government should pay his legal fees. “You can be guaranteed the federal defenders are looking at these cases now,” he said. He added, “Sometimes a defendant and his lawyer feel like, all things considered, they got a pretty good shake. Some defendants may say they don’t want to re-open their case — that it ended well, all things considered.” At least one challenge already has been filed in a civil case Camp heard. Just weeks after Camp’s Oct. 1 arrest, civil rights lawyer Gerald R. Weber Jr. asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Camp’s order in a civil case denying Weber’s clients about $200,000 in legal fees and expenses. Weber asked the 11th Circuit to take up the appeal “because Judge Jack Camp issued the cursory order appealed here under circumstances potentially clouding the integrity of that order.”

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