The Law.com Daily Report has details:
Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran has resigned, ending a judicial ethics investigation that included the judge’s practice of distributing pre-signed, blank arrest and search warrants to local law enforcement officers.
Cochran resigned effective 5 p.m. Wednesday, his attorney, Christopher Townley, said Thursday. The resignation was delivered to Governor Nathan Deal, who accepted it Thursday morning. Cochran’s departure comes just two weeks after his re-election to a third term.
Cochran agreed never to seek or hold judicial office again, according to a consent order the JQC posted on its website Thursday.
The JQC’s public report said its investigation focused on “whether the judge pre-signed blank arrest warrants for completion by law enforcement officers while he was absent from office.” The report also said the inquiry included “whether the judge allowed the prestige of his office to advance his private interests.”
JQC director Jeffrey Davis would not elaborate on how the judge may have misused his office to advance his private interests. “The matters we investigated, many of which have been made public, are those matters which are referred to in the reported disposition,” he said. “That’s about as specific as I can get.”
Two women have told the Daily Report and the JQC that Cochran sought sexual favors from them. One woman, Angela Garmley, and her attorney, former Georgia legislator McCracken Poston, have said that Cochran asked Garmley to become his mistress in return for a favorable ruling against several people against whom she had sworn out criminal warrants. A second woman who previously had sought help from the judge in a criminal matter told the Daily Report that Cochran had crudely propositioned her last year.
Townley said Cochran’s decision to step down from an office he has held for eight years was not related to the sexual harassment allegations. “He’s just furious” about those complaints, Townley said.
Cochran’s two-sentence resignation letter to the governor offered no explanation for his decision but simply his thanks “to the people of Georgia and Murray County for allowing me to serve.”
In a written statement Townley forwarded to the Daily Report, Cochran said, “I accept full responsibility for the warrants that were pre-signed. This is SOLELY the reason for my resignation.”
Makes one wonder what a more through and public investigation would turn up. I have heard of cases where judges accepted asset forfeiture kickbacks from local law enforcement for similar services…did Cochran have a similar payday?