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Investigation ordered into rumor of judicial affair

An investigation is underway about a potentially “improper intimate relationship” between recently resigned Chief Superior Court Judge Paschal A. English Jr. and defense attorney Kim Cornwell of the Fayette County Public Defender’s Office, The Citizen has confirmed.

The probe was ordered Wednesday by English’s successor as Chief Judge of the Griffin Judicial Circuit, Christopher C. Edwards, according to Chief Public Defender Joe Saia and District Attorney Scott Ballard.

Saia and Ballard are conducting the investigation and have been ordered to report their findings to the court at a later date. Ballard said his office will be working to determine if such a relationship existed between Judge English and Cornwell.

If such a relationship is substantiated, Ballard said, an independent agency with more investigative capabilities will likely be summoned for help such as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Ballard said the GBI has been hit hard by budget cuts so he won’t hand the case to them unless there are more facts than the rumors that have been reported so far.

The order from Judge Edwards spurring the investigation came Wednesday, less than five days after English stepped down from the bench in a stunningly unexpected development. The investigation order came two days before English’s last day on the bench, which was Friday, April 30.

Four days prior to English's resignation, fellow Superior Court Judge Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr., who later admitted to making “inappropriate remarks” to female attorneys.

Saia said his office has conducted a detailed review comparing Cornwell’s cases appearing before Judge English to those of the other two public defenders in the office, and there was no discernible difference in the way any of the clients were treated in the cases.

After the investigation was ordered by Judge Edwards, Saia decided to place Cornwell on administrative leave pending the outcome, Saia said.

“My major concern was if the relationship affected her representation of her clients,” Saia said. The review, however, “showed no favoritism for Kim’s clients and no punishment” for the other clients not represented by Cornwell, Saia added.

“They were treated pretty much equally,” Saia said. “I talked to the other two lawyers and they’d never seen anything to indicate there was ever any unfair treatment or ‘more than fair’ treatment.”

Ballard said his general observation up to this date has been that there is no way any of Cornwell’s cases would have been improperly influenced by English.

“But we’ll look into it as he (Judge Edwards) directed us to and to see what turns up,” Ballard said.

If there was some sort of personal relationship between English and Cornwell, it would be suspect that English would not have recused himself from cases involving Cornwell, who has been the lead public defender on several high-profile cases in the past several years.

Ballard said he was determined not to let the investigation deter his office from continuing to effectively prosecute criminal cases.

The investigation is a “terrible situation” not just for the allegations themselves but also for the two families involved, Saia said. He also had nothing but nice things to say about Cornwell’s dedication to her job.

“She’s loyal and dedicated. Her clients love her and I said that on the record to Judge Edwards and Judge Hankinson. And they know that.”



As recently as March 25, Ballard was writing gushing editorials to Fayette's tabloid newspaper praising the abilities of Judge English.

Given Ballard's apparent "bromance" with English, can we really trust Ballard to conduct an impartial investigation?

After this tawdry affair is wrapped up, serious consideration should be given to renaming Fayette Superior Court "Horndog Central".

PTC Observer's picture

We can't, appearance is everthing. We need someone outside the county to investigate in order to restore some degree of confidence in our court.

The 5-0's picture

The DA has no choice.

Ballard wants to put the investigation off on the GBI because he doesn't want to anger the judicial community in the Griffin District. GBI won't touch it unless a preliminary investigation is made first by Ballard.

He's trapped between a rock and a hard place.

Actually, Scott does have a choice. He has the authority to appoint a Special Prosecutor. This is the standard approach when there is even the slightest chance of the public's perception of a conflict of interest. The Special Prosecutor is usually someone whose qualifications are above reproach with no connection to the matter at hand.

The fact that he chose to keep this in house and under his control is sadly very telling.

The 5-0's picture

I'm under the impression that if the Superior Court judge orders DA Ballard's office to investigate, then Ballard doesn't have any choice in the matter.

The now Chief Judge can request the Office of the District Attorney to initiate an investigation. I do not think that the now Chief Judge can enter an Order on its own behalf to direct the District Attorney to do anything. I could be wrong about the process.

The issue is how Scott chose to respond. He is empowered to assign anyone on his staff, or in the event that his staff is either not competent or has a direct or perceived conflict of interest, he can hire a Special Prosecutor.

My issue is that despite the appearance of wrongdoing within the Circuit Court where he works, he chose to keep the investigation in house. He had the opportunity to create distance between his office and the other officers of the Court, to completely avoid the perception of another conflict of interest, and he chose not to.

It was a poor choice, no matter what his thoughts or motives were and it will not be forgotten.

That pink cocaine has ruined many a men

Something about this doesn't add up. Paschal English isn't a judge anymore. Judge Edwards has no authority over an ex-judge who is now a private citizen. So, this "investigation" seems like nothing but a dog and pony show. But who is the show for?

Assume that the "investigation" proves there was an affair between English and Cornwell. If Judge Edwards knew about the alleged relationship before English retired and did nothing, he may have a problem. The concern is that Cornwell or her clients got favorable treatment. But English isn't in a position to favor Cornwell anymore. Edwards, Ballard and Saia can't do anything to him and they really can't do anything to Cornwell, either. Well, Saia could fire her but that's as crazy as going after prostitutes and not the johns (no disrespect to Miss Cornwell meant). Only the state bar can punish lawyers and judges. So, who is this "investigation" meant to impress -- or scare off?

Seems magicians aren't the only ones who practice the art of misdirection.

PTC Observer's picture

Its goal should be to find out if justice has been served in past cases that have gone before this judge, nothing more. To the extent that a relationship existed between these two individuals, did this relationship taint the outcome of any trial?

If a relationship did exist, then one questions the judgment of both parties.

For a judicial system to be fair it must first be impartial.

Justice is blind.


Its goal should be to find out if justice has been served in past cases that have gone before this judge, nothing more. To the extent that a relationship existed between these two individuals, did this relationship taint the outcome of any trial?[/quote]

Okay, that's a fair point. But, what is the taint? If Cornwell threw any cases or her clients got more jail time, the state bar investigators should be investigating that and she should be dis-barred. Clients who were wrongly convicted or sentenced to more jail time because of the affair might have a right to appeal. If Cornwell's clients were let go or given less jail time, again, the state bar should be investigating that and she should be punished (though I don't know if that means she gets dis-barred). The DA doesn't get to appeal lighter sentences or the people who might have been let go.

So, either way, Ballard and Saia should not be doing the investigating. And Edwards ordering the very people effected by the taint (the DA and the Chief PD) to do this "investigation", instead of asking the state bar to step in makes me think that Justice is NOT blind.

PTC Observer's picture

I think we both agree.

TinCan's picture

That little space between.....never mind. Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Haven't had a setup like that in many a year.

You naughty boy you!

TinCan's picture

Not sure I like that subject line, but on second thought.... Just wanted to show that Navy tour wasn't all in vain. Never learned to tie a knot, but did learn some useful things.

S. Lindsey's picture

but what the hey.. Did chuckle at that one..

"Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel."

-Ayn Rand

TinCan's picture

Bout the only thing left at this point. Oats with a little bran.

The 5-0's picture

The investigation has been ordered by Judge Edwards so he can clear his name and put an end to any rumors that he failed to act.

Now Chief Judge Edwards did act, that is not a rumor and based on the prima facia evidence at hand, can and should be considered as fact.

The issues that require an independant review are: what caused now Chief Judge Edwards to order the review and why wasn't it done immediately after then Chief Judge English brought the matter to his attention.


And so many other cliché’s.

The next one that leaps to mind is "The Fox is watching the hen house." It is beyond any reasonable assumption that in light of the alleged judicial impropriety, that within the club, that now Chief Judge Edwards is a long standing member of, that the request for investigation would go anywhere BUT within the club. Why bring the impartial GBI, whose job it is to ferret out corruption of any and every kind, in to clear the good names of the Circuit court bench and the Public Defender's Office. That's right, they are too busy.

So instead, the job is assigned by now Chief Judge (read more pay and higher pension to protect) to now District Attorney Scott Ballard (now because it is safe to assume he has greater aspirations that will become evident very soon (read Circuit Court Judge).

The next cliché' is that "This stinks to high Heavens."

Everyone outside of the Judicial Club has to be wondering who and what now Chief Judge Edwards are protecting by keeping the investigation in house. I would be shocked, just shocked to hear at the "point in the future" that no wrongdoing was found. Nothing going on here, nothing to see, move along, nothing going on here.

There are those that know exactly why Chief Judge is protecting eveyone.

Of course, none of this has any impact on the people of Fayette County*. No one should ever expect to walk through the doors of the Judicial Center and receive an unbiased hearing or ruling until the house of Justice is completely cleansed.

*This is sarcasm.

Here is link to the AJC article (who broke this story)

The Citizen and John Munford have been doing outstanding work to date. Being so close to the situation and the people, it is hard to fathom that they got scooped by City folk.

The other thing that is really starting to bother me is that the latest relevation has completely taken the focus off of the what Chief Justice Edwards knew about former Chief Justice English and why didn't he take the appropriate action.

There is no way to ensure Justice is being served in an open and unbiased manner as long as the current players are still on the bench. In this case, the perception is that everyone of them is deeply involved and implicitly dirty.

Unfortunately, they can no longer be effective in carrying out their duties.

Perception has becom reality.

suggarfoot's picture

I am wondering, if this is found to be true, wouldn't they have to retry all the cases, if asked, that this lawyer won under the judge? Or if someone got a lighter sentence than others felt was right, using this lawyer...same thing?

The 5-0's picture

Things like this have happened in the past and 9 times out of 10 they don't retry the cases. Any decision on that will be up to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Any decision to re-try a case will not come from the Court of Appeals. The party that thinks that their case was not heard fairly must file an Appeal to start the process. The Court will then have to decide whether the Appeal meets the criteria of judicial bias according to the law at the time the original case was ruled upon by the Circuit Court.

The 5-0's picture

Like I said, it'll be up to the Court of Appeals. Lawyers can petition to appeal all day, but the decision to hear the case is up to the Appellate Court, not the petitioner.

suggarfoot's picture

With the new blogs.. I didn't know where to put this...but I found a gem today!

Your talking to someone who LIKES FOOD! I may not be rich, but I know how to eat! When I lived in LA, I indulged myself by flying back to New Orleans, about every other month. If you lived in LA, and liked food, you needed to console yourself with K Paul's in New O'lens, to know all the world hadn't all gone crazy with sushi and half cooked chicken!

Men, don't ever let these scrawney women tell you it is healthy..(the bitch can't cook)!

When I moved back to the south, Atlanta, I went to 103 West, and Atlanta Fish Market. Not that I wasn't taken there enough, I was addicted to God's food. southern/ Cajun cooking. When not on dates, not that I could afford it, you would ..still..find me there. My soul needed nourishment! (Some girls need a lot of nourishing to blossom)!

There is a little restaurant TJ's Bistro/Kroger shopping center/Peachtree city!!!

I had seen a sign all you can eat catfish on Friday nights. I was in the neighborhood so I stopped in. No one outside of Mississippi and Louisiana can cook catfish right! conosur of catfish..!

No Catfish except Fridays, but Oh MY! I ordered shrimp. slaw not on the menu, but they made it, I wanted tarter sauce, they made it right there. And then, it didn't go with the rest, but I thought I died and went to heaven when I looked down n cajun rice and sausage! I ordered it thou it doesn't go with anything I had.

Guys, I almost licked my plate! It was all that good! The only thing left on my plate was a few shrimp tails, hiding under a lettuce leaf, (tryin not to get noticed!) I called friends, one came down, and laughed cause I'm a picky eater.

I came out waddling and rubbing my most appreciative little buddha belly!!

I told my 18 yr old about catfish night Friday...all you can eat..I hope they don't wipe them out!

This is the best kept secret in PTC..or is it?..Can it be that unless the guys double the price, and only serve after 5 with don't know what you got?

If I were younger...and still a slinky thing on the move...I would invite someone to a home cooked dinner, and run down there for take out!

All single women on the prowl...if you served them that would have a ring.. and his soul!!

Time saved...mission accomplished!

SPQR's picture

TJ'S. Is that the place on the corner with the big TV on the wall? I used to go there before it was TJ's but found the TV so annoying I quit. Your review temps me to give it another try.

suggarfoot's picture

Yes, It is that one. The Tv is still there, but I was sitting next to it, and they had it turned down really low.

The food is wonderful. I bragged on the food so much, the chef came out n met me. He told be he had been cooking for more than 20 years.

I almost didn't go in there, I would have really misssed something!

It is a whole new bunch.

TinCan's picture

Thanks for the info. FYI "dining" under the "forums" selection would probably fit the bill for this one.

suggarfoot's picture

Thanks, I'll try that next time. The food is really really good.

carbonunit52's picture

When I read about this type of "monkey business", the question that I have regarding human evolution is not whether we evolved from monkeys, but rather, are we ever going to?

like your comment. very funny 'cause it's a serious conundrum! I shall meditate on this.

Cyclist's picture

Was also the name of the yacht that 1988 Presidential Candidate Gary Hart spent the night with Miami model Donna Rice. I suspect there was "monkey business" going on during that liaison or is it a sortie? Poor Gary.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

abeautifulday4us's picture

Springtime Music for that Randy Courthouse Gang

An inside investigation, aided by the white wash GBI? Whose the investigator--- the guy from Rothlisberger's case? And who are these new, mysterious "Senior Judges" to whom the report goes? I'll bet they have a relationship with some folks.

What our court system needs desperately is an outsider. But it will not happen. Never does.

Well, we're a joke in the State of Georgia now so let's have some fun.

How about a little spring time music for these crazy judges, lawyers and folks ? What a beautiful time of year---- how about 1928 classic “Making Whoopee”. The music was written by Walter Donaldson, the words by Gus Kahn and first appeared as part of the Broadway-Musical "Whoopee!" in 1928.

Here you go you rowdy courthouse guys and gals out in the parking lot---- the great performance by Michelle Pfeiffer of “Making Whoopee”:

tortugaocho's picture

"Velcro Fly" by ZZ Top might be a better song for the courthouse crowd.

Didn't ZZ Top play at the Villages Amphitheatre? Oops...May not want to go there.

How many attorneys would forfeit their careers or reputations to solely benefit a client? Sorry, I would totally doubt a defendant would be the focus of any relationship.

That depends. People do stupid things for equally stupid reasons.

If the attorney was in an "improper relationship" with a judge and the defendant's case was political (like a crime where the victim is rich and powerful and the defendant is poor and had some good defenses), that judge might tell the attorney to do whatever it took to keep him from having to let the defendant go. And the attorney might do as they were told (or suffer through an angry judge who could make their life miserable). The case didn't even have to go to trial (wouldn't want a transcript as proof of the bad behavior). The attorney could just get the defendant to take a plea deal.

So, to answer your question, could it happen? Yes. Whether it is or isn't likely isn't the question that the bar should be investigating. The question is, did it happen?

At this point, anything is possible. A little "pillow talk" could benefit the client and the atty reputatuion. But at the same time, if there was an intimate relationship, personally, I would not be talking about the defendant.

There is another thing that exists here and that is that Edwards has ordered an investigation into this matter which may indicate he (Edwards) had prior knowledge of Paschal's "relationship". It would appear Chris is doing the CYA thing and is no less guilty of coming forward than Paschal dealing w/ Caldwell's issues. Edwards had also received a nomination to the higher court and I believe he would try to protect any possibility that he would be able to serve.


The question is, did it happen?

Maybe it did, may it didn't. We may never know but more helpful than anything i have read here so far would be to show up on the steps of the courthouse on the morning of May 6 (National Day of Prayer)and pray for our judges and those in authority over us. They have enormous responsibility and are not immune from Enemy attacks. Come on Now, Christians...are you in?

I know that there is a lot of supposition going on. But in order to get to the truth, one of two things must happen. First, the records of the Judicial Commission must be opened. Under the Constitution, that is not going to happen legally. The second thing is to use the power of deduction and logic based on the known facts, which don't include rumors.

Question #1: Why hasn't now Chief Judge Edwards resigned for his role in the cover up of English's behavour?

Fact #1: Edwards has not resigned yet. In fact, he took on the Role of Chief Judge of the Griffin Circuit.

Fact #2: Edwards, when he found out "something" about Caldwell and English, did the only logical thing he could have. He provided opposing counsel the opportunity to give up their right to appeal previous orders. This, of course was too broad a sword, but I think his intentions were honorable. He gave them an opportunity to move forward on based on the lack of bias in the previous two years. They chose not to.

Fact #3: Upon learning of English and Caldwell's legal issues, the State came to town and forced the removal of Caldwell.

Fact #4: English didn't need the pressure from the State, he saw the writing on the wall and left on his own accord to spend more time with his family, because that is what a man caught with a mistress does.

Quetion #2: Why did the State come to Fayetteville?

Fact #5: The State does not come fishing for resignation letters for fun. Someone has to give them something to act on.

Fact #6: The Attorney stated that she didn't report anything to the State. While you can't prove a negative, you can look at the timing and draw the conclusion that she didn't make the call.

Conclusion: Edwards did his job, ratted out Caldwell, which begat the English resignation.

Here is the problem.

Despite his assumed intentions, which could also be viewed as a cover-up of judicial malfeasance, he waited too long to make the call.

He profitted by his actions and did not hold himself up to the standards and rules that he swore to uphold.

Without question, he must either resign or be forcibly removed by the State. There is a very clear perception of his improper actions. With everything that has happened and is continuing to go on, perception has become reality.

I believe you are speaking of Chris not coming forward before the crap hit the fan? In my opinion, if and when he ordered an investigation into Paschal's "relationship" I believe he (Edwards) was making an attempt to salvage what he could and not be under the microscope. I believe he waited too late and his actions now are to save his position. Sorry, Chris' good intentions came too late and unfortunately I feel he too has committed the same infractions for not having come forth when he knew Caldwell an English had violdated ethical standards.

tortugaocho's picture

Nobody at the Courthouse really gives a damn about anything other than their money, their perks, etc. What a horrible bunch. Don't expect the bar of attorneys or any of the employees including the judges to say or do anything to rat the others out.

I just wonder why the attorney (Susan)didn't follow protocal... a doctor doesn't complain to another doctor... they go to the board. Why didn't she file a proper written complaint to the appropriate people instead of talking smack to these different judges for 3 years? Did she pass her Bar exam? She's just been gossiping for 3 years and she should know the proper protocal for a complaint.... I'm just saying....

And, Chris ... oh yeah, he's in CYA mode... but ... Karma is a b@@@@.

suggarfoot's picture

In another life time, I dated an LAPD, he knew Ferman, and that bunch. When the OJ deal was going on, he about had a coronary, because he said if Ferman lied on the witness stand, all the past cases he gave testimony in were up for scrutiney. It was a long time ago, and I can't remember his exact words.

I'm curious to know why the JQC hasn't demanded a residnation of (now) Chief Judge Chris Edwards. While he purports to be above reproach, there are a number of discrepancies in how he has handled this situation, as well as impropriaties in his own office.

(1) He knew about the Susan Brown incident long before he reported it (and, yes, he is the one who ultimately reported it).
(2) This is a win-win situation for him with Caldwell and English resigning. He's now Chief Judge.
(3) Most telling to me is the fact that the relationship between English and Cornwell has LONG been known by him (as well as everyone else in the courthouse). In fact, any time English wanted Cornwell's cases to be heard in his (English's) courtroom, Edwards was more than willing to send them down the hall. This has been going on for years, but only now has he seen fit to 'call for an investigation'.
(4) The investigation - ordered by someone (Edwards) who already knows the facts ... investigated by persons (Ballard and Saia) whose own staff members were involved in the relationship. And by involved, I mean lunching with and partying with. Hey folks, what's to investigate here? Edwards, Ballard and Saia know all the facts, believe me.

(5) Now the real stinker - Edwards has a number of (serious) impropriaties in his own office. For over a year, Edwards has been using the circuit law clerk (Steven Harris) as well as Edwards' clerical staff to do personal work on State and/or county time. At Edwards' direction, Mr. Harris has been working on preparing Edwards' thesis almost non-stop, while the orders and briefs pile up on Harris' desk. This not only is misappropriation of funds and staff, but also explains why attorneys and their clients have abnormally long (and costly) waits on some cases. As for the rest of Edwards' staff, they are tasked with the clerical aspect of Edwards' thesis.

So when do we get Edwards' resignation? It should be DEMANDED.

to understand why a few people want all of our judges gone, or I suppose in jail if possible!

All we should need to do is allow the law to resolve the accusations.

One question though of those wanting their hides----do you have any personal or family or friends reason to want this?

Remember, it is a drastic penalty to put upon a judge to say he has deliberately misused his office. Even being unqualified or lazy isn't nearly as bad.
They aren't however immune.

bringinabroom's picture

Edwards' Last Stand? I doubt that. But the unseemly nature of the investigation does draw questions. He knows what Ballard and Saia will conclude, knowing that that they knew about it.

What they knew? What fully went on ? We will never know.

The whole thing stinks. Time for a spring cleaning.

"The whole thing stinks--- time for a Spring Cleaning."

It is very disappointing to learn of the alledged abuse of office. Unfortunately, it is not surprising. If you have been in front of now Chief Judge Edwards, you wonder why it takes so long to get any paper pushed through the office. Simple orders can take weeks. Not having the purview behind the glass doors, I now think I understand.

But until either Cal and John do some digging on behalf of the people in the jurisdiction or now Chief Judge Edwards steps aside to spend more time with his family, we will never know. Maybe the Atlanta Journal Constitution or TV-2 will have to travel to scoop the locals again.

Either way, it is apparent that now Chief Judge Edwards has to step up to the bench, state unequivocally that he has done nothing wrong or step down. The sooner the better.

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