The state Judicial Qualifications Commission has filed ethics charges against a former president of the Council of State Court Judges of Georgia, accusing him of illegally fining criminal defendants to boost his salary, allowing social relationships to influence his judicial conduct and verbally attacking people in his courtroom whom he believed had supported his political opponent.
The JQC said Friday that Grady County State Court Judge J. William Bass Sr.—a part-time judge who shares a legal practice with his son, John William Bass Jr.—also improperly appointed his son to hear matters whenever the judge was not available; routinely escorted Hispanic defendants out of the courtroom to speak with them privately about their cases without a court reporter or a prosecutor present; suggested that prosecutors dismiss criminal cases because he knew members of the defendants’ families; and threatened members of the Georgia State Patrol who took exception to some of his rulings.
The JQC charges also accuse Bass of making “numerous threatening and confrontational statements” to the owners and employees of a private probation services company under contract with the state court because they would not support his 2010 re-election campaign and that after he was re-elected, he retaliated by terminating the company’s contract. Bass won the hotly contested campaign by 30 votes, according to his campaign Facebook page.
Bass told the Daily Report that he had no comment on the charges. On his Facebook page, he wrote during his 2010 campaign: “Jesus noted that our actions, and not our words, identify us. When it comes to character, leadership, experience, compassion, service and a complete track record, mine is there for scrutiny.”
Bass, 63, also teaches new judges for the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education.