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Chief Judge Edwards bows out of contention for appeals court

Fayette County Superior Court Judge Christopher C. Edwards has withdrawn his name from consideration for a vacant seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Edwards was nominated by several Fayetteville attorneys, but bowed out as he is focusing on his new role as chief judge of the Griffin Judicial Circuit.

Edwards said Tuesday that he was flattered by the nomination but he has been very busy in the details of tweaking court operations from calendar adjustments to courthouse security considerations.

Losing Edwards would have been a further blow to the local judiciary which this April saw two of four sitting Superior Court judges resign in the same week. Judge Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. was the first to resign, later admitting to making inappropriate remarks to female attorneys, and four days later Judge Paschal A. English Jr. also stepped down.

It was later revealed that English was caught in a sexual tryst with public defender attorney Kim Cornwell on Oct. 13, 2008 when a Fayette sheriff’s deputy came across a vehicle that was parked in a subdivision on the outskirts of Fayetteville. A subsequent investigation ordered by Edwards and conducted by the Fayette County District Attorney’s office noted that English was “steering” Cornwell’s cases to his courtroom.

That investigation By DA Scott Ballard also determined that no judicial wrongdoing could be discerned in a review of more than 200 cases in which Cornwell represented clients in front of Judge English. That review, however, was only limited to cases that transpired after the judge and attorney affair was documented by the deputy.

Ballard’s investigation neglected to look at any such cases that were adjudicated prior to the English-Cornwell affair being exposed.

After a lengthy process, Gov. Sonny Perdue last month appointed veteran Fayette County State Court Judge Fletcher Sams to one of the Superior Court vacancies, with former Pike County attorney and legislator Mack Crawford getting the other Superior Court judgeship for the Griffin circuit, which includes Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Upson counties.

The full list of applicants for the Appeals Court vacancy has not yet been released but The Citizen has learned that at least one other Fayette resident is on the list: Angela M. Hinton, a senior assistant city attorney for the City of Atlanta.

Hinton has previous experience as an assistant district attorney in Savannah, in bankruptcy court in both Savannah and Atlanta, and also in private practice.

Hinton also has performed extensive volunteer work, serving on Fayette County’s Department of Family and Children Services board, the leadership council of the Arts Leadership League of Georgia, the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers Foundation Committee and the State Bar of Georgia Fee Arbitration Panel.

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