Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016    Login | Register        

State office probing judge-attorney affair

An attorney from outside the Griffin Judicial Circuit has been appointed to review criminal cases to determine if any indigent defendants’ rights were violated due to the now-substantiated affair between a public defense attorney and Superior Court Judge Paschal A. English Jr.

Bryan M. Cavan, an attorney at Miller & Martin law firm in Atlanta, will not be reviewing individual cases but instead will be looking at the totality of the situation and will report back to the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, according to Mack Crawford, the director of the public defender standards council.

One council member, Don Oliver, said he had planned to suggest that the local public defender’s office begin to notify clients of the affair. Oliver, who is the county attorney for Walker County, said he would withhold that recommendation until a later date pending the results of the investigation.

Part of the impetus for the investigation is the medical condition of Chief Public Defender Joe Saia, who remains hospitalized after suffering a heart attack in early June while he was on vacation. Saia was expected to provide a report on the matter to the public defender council but since being hospitalized he has been unable to do so.

Crawford said he felt the matter needed to be resolved.

“With Joe’s situation,” Crawford said. “... I felt like we had to do something to look at the situation there and make sure clients interests had not been compromised or jeopardized in any form or fashion.”

Crawford, who was recently appointed as one of Fayette’s two new Superior Court judges, said Friday that the council has received “several phone calls” from clients and former clients about the situation, as the relationship between Superior Court Judge English and then-public defense attorney Kim Cornwell created ethical questions that have yet to be answered.

Neither Cornwell nor English, both of whom have resigned from their positions, cooperated with an investigation into the matter conducted by the office of District Attorney Scott Ballard. That probe was ordered by Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards, and Ballard ultimately announced that Cornwell and English were confirmed to have been engaged in an affair due to the fact they were caught Oct. 13, 2008 by a Fayette sheriff’s deputy in a subdivision while engaged in a sexual act in a motor vehicle.

The affair remained a secret until May of this year when the deputy’s encounter was confirmed by Fayette County Sheriff Wayne Hannah, several weeks after English tendered his resignation from the bench.

Ballard in a May press conference he and Saia in their review of the cases involving English and Cornwell could find no bias in favor of any parties in the criminal cases. However, Ballard’s review was limited to cases which occurred only after the date English and Cornwell were discovered by the deputy. Ballard confirmed that he didn’t review any cases between English and Cornwell at any point of time before the affair was discovered.

Ballard at the press conference admitted that he had known English and Cornwell were spending time together but he was unaware they were involved in an affair.

Crawford said there are about 400-450 cases that could be in question and the number depends on “what date” is chosen to review cases. Those details are being left up to Cavan to determine, Crawford said.

“He is just looking to make a recommendation back to the council on how to proceed from here,” Crawford said, adding that Cavan may find some matters which require further direction from the council.

Crawford said before Cavan was appointed, he discussed the matter with counsel from the governor’s office and then subsequently with the Georgia attorney general’s office.

Once it was decided that an attorney would be picked to handle the probe, several attorneys were approached and turned down the request, Crawford said. Cavan, a former president of the Georgia Bar Association, agreed.

There is no time frame for the investigation to be concluded at this point, Crawford said.

Cavan, who lives in Newnan, specializes in business litigation with an emphasis on construction and surety law and also employment cases, according to his biography on his firm’s website.

In addition to being president of the state bar association from 2009-2010, Cavan also has chaired the bar’s state disciplinary board investigative panel.

Cavan also has a history of helping low-income persons in need of legal help, having co-founded the DeKalb Volunteer Lawyers Foundation to specifically meet those needs.

Crawford also noted that the Griffin Circuit public defender office has been short-handed due to Saia’s ailment, the recent passing of senior assistant public defender Tammy Jacobs and also the resignation of Cornwell.

Another senior assistant public defender, Allen Adams, has been appointed to serve as the chief assistant public defender for administrative purposes only, Crawford said.



bringinabroom's picture

Courthouse may need a sweeping, too, just like the County Commission.

This looks like another white wash like what Scott Ballard tried (unsuccessfully) to pull off. Looks like Pappy's friends are trying to have an investigation just so they can say "The End".

I'm not buying folks. They brought in a corporate lawyer to investigate? Huh? And he is not going to review any specific cases but just generally.

And as for now-judge Crawford--- why did he wait two years after this and after he became judge and talked to Sonny Perdue to initiate something? Sounds like yet another white wash.

I'm not buying this.

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

You will have to buy it! Embarrassment and real punishment (jail) (fines) just isn't done to these people.

Reminds me of when Richard Nixon got cornered with the tapes and agreed to release a "summary". LOL. We're going to receive a sanitized version of all that happened.

At first I surely thought you were talking about me needing a "sweeping."

But I'm not a "courthouse," just the rules of the courthouse! Thus courthouserules. (there are none for real for most workers there, just us)

It has a similar meaning to Irving's "The Cider House Rules," where the rules posted in the cider house in the book were meaningless to the people they were supposed to rule!

They couldn't read nor remember them if told. Also the rules were stupid.
So, our real court house rules get violated often as we have seen lately.

Explaining each and every cider house rule and why it is meaningless takes an Irving, the author, to do. I will tell you one rule however: "Don't sit on the cider house roof" (was also their temporary home)
It got extremely hot in the tin roof shack with no a/c nor any kind of ventilation, so only way to cool off before trying sleep was to get up high after the sun went down in maybe a breeze!

The writers of these rules never slept in the shack nor cared about conditions! No one even knew who wrote them.

The comparison of these rules to the rules against ALL abortions certainly was to be taken into consideration, I think, by Irving, the author.
One of the black young apple pickers was pregnant by her Father in the story. And on and on...........

Many millions coming for lawyers if and when anyone opens up the individual cases (several hundred) for review, and then, as I understand it, after all that is done, the judges liability will be considered.

Is there no immediate punishment, over resignation, for a judge who tries cases with his girlfriend as the defense lawyer? Or a judge who is right smart friendly with many females in the court system while on the bench?

Are lawyers also liable for such things as Tennis Center loans that are illegal, when they sit on the board?

I am beginning to think that maybe there are numerous positions in our system of laws and government and schools, where no one can be outright fired and tried for anything done wrong.

Want to discuss Atlanta's school mess? No? Clayton Sheriff? No?
PTCs previous Chief? No? Current Sheriff about Judge in the dell? No?

I already know that the only "goat" to jail fiasco so far in the wall street mess was Chief Cheatanator (can't think of his real name right now).
All this just encourages more to do the same!

So, does Judge English pull these shenanigans and just walk away with full retirement without any punishment whatsoever?????

"The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends"

PTC Observer's picture

Yes he gets full retirement no matter what.

Punishment for his actions:

1. My guess is he is being punished at this very moment for his lapse of judgment.
2. He will likely be punished by law before it's all over.
3. He will answer to a higher authority than ours.

Finally, he has thrown his career, family, and life away.

Trying hundreds of cases where his girlfriend was the defender (severe show of no principles) gets him nothing! He was ready to retire anyway.

Couldn't John Dillinger have used the same defense? Resign from bank robbing and quit killing and then he would be being punished right now by his mind; answer to a higher authority--how, by asking for forgiveness?
His career is done---pension takes over, how do you know about family?

We must get away from treating such people as being above most things.

Georgia has had a rash of these lately by judges. It has to be coming from poor appointments by politics.

Judge English--- give it the ole whitewash. When they appointed BACK IN AUGUST a former good ole boy President of the Lawyers Bar and I didn't expect much. And we got no kind of investigation. They didn't investigate and didn't report. What a waste of time and money.

Ad space area 4 internal