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A Fulton County, Ga., juvenile court judge whose 4-year-old daughter was found alone on the street late at night will not sit in judgment of other parents until authorities have completed their investigation into the judge’s conduct. Chief Judge Nina R. Hickson on Tuesday recused herself from hearing deprivation cases until after the state Judicial Qualifications Commission completes its review of the Nov. 29 incident. Hickson announced the recusal — which does not apply to matters in which minors are accused of delinquency — in a letter to Chief Judge Elizabeth E. Long of Fulton County Superior Court, which appoints juvenile court judges. “I believe this is an appropriate step in light of the circumstances,” Hickson’s letter said. Long said the court members were satisfied with Hickson’s recusal, pending the completion of the investigation. On Tuesday morning, Long presided over a meeting of the Fulton Superior Court judges that was called to address the Hickson matter. The JQC, which can recommend that the Supreme Court of Georgia remove a judge from the bench, announced on Monday that it also will investigate the incident. Atlanta police last week launched an inquiry after news reporters began asking about the incident. Fulton prosecutors said they would wait until the police department delivered its conclusions before deciding whether charges were warranted. A spokeswoman for the state Division of Family and Children Services on Tuesday confirmed that a DFACS state investigator has issued a formal finding of neglect. Hickson has acknowledged that she left the child home alone about 11 p.m. on Nov. 29, after the two returned from a trip to the Baltimore-Washington area. Hickson, who is single, adopted the child, according to police. In a statement issued on Monday, Hickson explained that she and her daughter came home from the airport around 10:45 p.m. The judge then realized she had forgotten a piece of luggage. Hickson said she waited for the girl to fall asleep before driving back to the airport to retrieve the luggage. When Hickson returned home after midnight, according to police, she found the front door open and her daughter missing. A limousine driver had found the little girl running down a sidewalk more than a half-mile away — shivering, crying and asking to be taken to the airport to find her mother. The driver called 911 and waited with the child for police to arrive. He said last week that Hickson’s daughter was wearing jeans and a pullover but no shoes or jacket in the 33-degree weather. Hickson soon after came upon the scene and was reunited with her daughter. A police report was taken, and several phone calls were made, including one to DFACS. Police returned the child to Hickson’s custody at the scene. DFACS spokeswoman Renee Huie said the agency normally does not discuss the details of a case but was doing so now because Hickson already had issued a public statement. In her statement, Hickson said DFACS made an automatic finding of neglect because agency policy requires that finding in all cases of children 8 years old or younger being left alone. But Huie said a finding of neglect is not automatic. “Our policy is that you shouldn’t leave a child home alone; however, we don’t automatically say it’s neglect because a child under 8 was left alone � It depends on the circumstances.” Huie confirmed Hickson’s other statements — that DFACS had closed the case because an investigation showed that Hickson had agreed to a safety plan for her daughter. Hickson’s statement included an apology: “Without reservation and with a great deal of pain and regret, I admit I made a mistake. And I am sorry. I, of all people, should have known better. Under no circumstances should I have left my 4-year-old daughter alone at home, even for a moment, without adult supervision.”

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