The newest member of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission already has experience with the impact its investigations can have on a judicial district.
In 2009, when the judicial disciplinary agency was investigating ethics complaints against an Appalachian Circuit Superior Court judge, Chief Judge Brenda Weaver signed an order unprecedented in the JQC’s history. Weaver stripped her colleague, then-Superior Court Judge Oliver Harris "Harry" Doss, of his criminal cases until the JQC inquiry concluded.
The order—which Weaver signed with the circuit’s other Superior Court judge, Roger Bradley—also directed the circuit’s three superior court clerks not to accept any orders signed by Doss in either criminal or civil forfeiture cases.
The judges issued the order after Doss announced his resignation in a letter blasting the JQC for unfair treatment but said he would stay in office for another month.
The ethics charges against him, filed three days after he sent his resignation letter to the governor, have never been resolved.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Georgia named Weaver as one of its two appointees to the seven-member JQC. Weaver replaces Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance Russell, whose term expired earlier this year.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein said Justice Hugh Thompson, the high court’s liaison to the JQC, recommended Weaver for the post. "Everyone has a great deal of respect for Brenda Weaver as a judge, as a person," Hunstein said. "I think she does a wonderful job at whatever she attempts. We have great confidence in her."
The Supreme Court’s other appointee, Chattahoochee Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge John Allen, is the commission chairman. The JQC also includes three appointees by the State Bar of Georgia and two by the governor, who cannot be members of the state bar or the state judiciary.
Weaver, who could not be reached for comment, has been a superior court judge since 1996. Before then, she served as a juvenile court judge, an assistant district attorney and a private lawyer at Weaver & Weaver with her husband, George W. Weaver. She earned her law degree at Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta and joined the bar in 1983.
Weaver is a member of the 26-member Judicial Council of Georgia, according to the state Administrative Office of Courts. She has been elected secretary-treasurer of the Council of Superior Court Judges of Georgia,  effective May 1, when she also will  become  a member of that organization’s executive committee, the AOC said.
According to a 2007 Supreme Court news release, Weaver has also served as presiding judge in the Appalachian Circuit’s drug court, was "instrumental" in the creation of a family drug court and a family violence court in the circuit and has served on the Georgia Family Violence Commission and the Supreme Court Commission on Access and Fairness in the Courts.
In 2009, Weaver and Bradley stripped Doss of his criminal docket after Doss refused to step aside in favor of a senior judge. The judges issued their order on Nov. 7, a day after Doss announced he would resign on Dec 5.
The joint order cited tensions between Doss and then-District Attorney Joe Hendricks, who was cooperating with the JQC. It also noted an incident that later appeared in ethics charges accusing Doss of threatening one of Hendricks’ assistant district attorneys after the prosecutor refused to change a negotiated plea agreement.
In their order, Weaver and Bradley said Doss’ verbal altercation with the prosecutor and other "well-publicized" statements had led them "to believe that criminal defendants, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys may fear or anticipate that their cases are compromised, biased or impacted in some manner because of the tension between the office of the district attorney and Judge Doss."
The judges wrote that they had "a duty to ensure to the best of their abilities that all parties in this circuit enter a courtroom with the knowledge that cases will be adjudicated based solely upon the merits."
The JQC’s then-chairman, King & Spalding attorney Benjamin Easterlin, told the Daily Report at the time that he knew of no previous case when the colleagues of a judge facing ethics charges had stripped him of his docket.
In issuing the order, Weaver had to tread lightly. By the time she and Bradley issued it, Weaver’s husband, a Jasper lawyer, had already asked that Doss be disqualified from presiding over 51 cases he had pending before Doss, citing the ongoing JQC investigation. George Weaver had claimed in the motions that Doss was biased against him. Doss subsequently recused from hearing any of George Weaver’s cases.
After Doss resigned, George Weaver nominated to the governor’s judicial recommendation panel the woman who would replace Doss—Amanda Mercier, who also was the law partner of Georgia House Speaker David Ralston.