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Still more judge trouble in long-running divorce case

A Fayette County woman is asking for the latest judge appointed to her long-running divorce case to be removed because of his connections to a previous presiding judge on the case: Paschal A. English Jr.

Attorneys for Janet Bell Crook of Peachtree City also have alleged that Senior Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley of Cobb County gave preferential treatment to English by allowing him to avoid testifying at a pre-trial hearing June 25 despite a subpoena issued in the case.

According to court filings, Brantley in 2008 authored a letter seeking campaign funds for English’s re-election bid. The letter was listed as an in-kind campaign donation of $42 on Judge English’s campaign finance reports.

The divorce case between Mrs. Crook and Gregory E. Crook has been ongoing since April 2008 and the lengthy pre-trial phase has led to frustration with some involved in the case, particularly the guardian ad litem who was appointed to represent the best interests of the Crooks’ two minor children.

Although former Judge English was not named in the lawsuit as a defendant, Mrs. Crook’s latest attorneys have alleged that he failed to timely rule on several motions including one seeking an emergency change in child custody.

A May 24 motion filed by Mrs. Crook’s attorneys claimed that former Judge English, when he presided over the case during a span of several months, at one point said he would not rule on any motions until the case was ready for trial.

“Defendant had no remedy because Judge English refused to consider any motions,” Mrs. Crook’s attorneys said in a May 24 motion. “This was and is unconscionable.”

English was ultimately released from the subpoena Aug. 9 as Mrs. Crook and her attorneys decided not to pursue his testimony in the case, according to an email from attorney Gary Freed to Judge Brantley.

Last week Mrs. Crook’s attorneys Kathy L. Portnoy and Freed filed the motion seeking Judge Brantley’s recusal from the case.

The Crook v. Crook divorce case had been assigned to Brantley, one of two senior Superior Court Judges who were designated to serve in the Griffin Circuit following the stunning March resignations of English and fellow jurist Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. Because of the alleged judicial improprieties with the case on behalf of Caldwell in particular, the circuit’s other two elected judges also recused themselves from the case.

It wasn’t until several weeks following English’s resignation that it became public that he was caught having an affair with a public defender attorney, Kim Cornwell, inside a motor vehicle on the outskirts of Fayetteville by a sheriff’s deputy in 2008.

In the motion to disqualify Brantley from the case, the allegations of special treatment toward English as a witness were contrasted towards Brantley’s treatment of another witness in the case who was forced to appear in court and testify under subpoena Sept. 10 despite the fact that she was preparing to leave that afternoon for a family vacation.

Although Judge Brantley had suggested that English could be allowed to enter testimony by way of a deposition, no such courtesy was allowed to the other witness, who happened to be the children’s therapist. The therapist had offered to testify via phone or sit for a deposition as soon as the following Monday, according to an affidavit from Mrs. Crook’s attorney Kathy Portnoy.

Portnoy and Freed then suggested that the therapist could be released from her subpoena that day, but Brantley interjected that if such happened the therapist would not be allowed to testify at a future hearing on a request to modify the temporary child custody arrangement, Portnoy’s affidavit claims.

Ultimately the therapist appeared at the Sept. 10 hearing and testified, the affidavit said.

By contrast, when English declined to appear at the June 25 hearing, Brantley resisted attorney Freed’s request that English be held in contempt.

“I know from emails he sent to you all and copied to me that he’s willing to sit for a deposition. So, in my mind, I don’t see him as trying to avoid testifying,” Judge Brantley is quoted as saying during the June 25 hearing, according to Freed’s affidavit.

In addition to its inordinate length prior to completion, the Crook v. Crook divorce case is also of note because it inadvertently led to the resignations of Judges Caldwell and English. One of Mrs. Crook’s former attorneys, Peachtree City divorce attorney Susan Brown, informally complained to Superior Court Judge Christopher C. Edwards in March about favoritism in the case exhibited by Judge Caldwell particularly in terms of bias against Brown as an attorney because she had refused his sexual advances.

When Caldwell resigned in March, he admitted days later that he had made inappropriate remarks toward female attorneys. Four days following Caldwell’s resignation, English too turned in his resignation, though not publicly admitting any wrongdoing.

English and public defender attorney declined to cooperate with the subsequent investigation into their affair that was conducted on Edwards’ order by Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard and Fayette County Chief Public Defender Joe Saia.

Ballard and Saia reported in May they could find no wrongdoing on behalf of English or Cornwell that may have jeopardized the state nor any criminal defendants.



mudcat's picture

This simple divorce case is really wearing me out. Judges as well, from what I read. Why is this woman so pushy? Surely she can just get a quickie divorce somewhere if that is what she wants, but this honey seems obsessed with the judges and the process and maybe the attention. Is she trolling for a TV show or new hubby or maybe to snare a judge? Can't we kick her down the road and stop spending our tax dollars on her obsession? Please?

Even if hubby did violate the 7th and maybe the 10th Commandment, give it up and let us be free of the Crook family. We don't need to spend anymore money on your problems. Go away! Please! Or get a TV show, you rednecks.

suggarfoot's picture

so much as just finding an honest one. So would the rest of us. We just don't have the money or the means. I'm glad someone does, and is making a point of trying to find an honest judge.

It seems the more that comes out, it is just too much to ask for.

Sounds like money has already bought most of "justice" around here.

suggarfoot's picture

Back when the enlightened/backward Georgia law was in effect that at 14 a child could go to either parent of their choosing, despite their parenting ability.

Mine's dead beat dad that never paid child support, and his Bible thumping wife, sang the siren song to my child, 'come live with me'. They wanted retribution for the $1.29 they might have paid in child support the 1st year of my child's 15 years on earth. They also saw little ole hard working me as someone to support them. To hell with my child.

Though English was made aware the father was foaming at the mouth and crazy as an out house rat from Viet Nam (100%, with 70% being mental) and the Bible thump er wife was standing in the wings doing the dance of the seven veils, he handed my son to them on a silver platter.

I was hurt by Judge English disregard for the fact that they would certainly hurt my child, but also what happened next.

After "Snape" waved his magic wand and sprinkles of multi colors fell around the room, he shouted, "Mr X, Mr X, please wait a minute..I don't want you to leave this court without me shaking your hand!" My attorney and I looked at each other in awe and disbelief as this old buzzard in black comes swooping down to shake my x husband's hand, because "he was a fellow soldier from Viet Nam"!

I have thought many times about what other kindred spirits they must have instantly recognized in each other. The bitterness was overwhelming.

I got back son back a year later, battered and broken in spirit by 2 people it was obvious from the start were going to use for a child for their own selfish reasons.

I can't tell you how much I hate ex Judge English for what he did to my child. If only he had used the brain in his head and not his vanity to make decisions. And now it is coming out what I thought that day in court. He lets the brain below and ego make decisions that are so crucial for everyone.

I hope him and my x meet again in hell and they can talk about their individual styles of 'river dancing' over the hot coals!!!!

positivelysouthernbelle's picture

Take comfort in knowing that some brave souls are seeking justice and truth in this circuit. God help us all~

In the classic style of this district Brantley waits till the last hour to recuse himself..... as the hearing was scheduled tomorrow. He is already a proven liar from stating that George H. Bush appointed him to a committiee during the 90's to fluff his electoral resume. He was forced out of the election by this eroneus proclamation. Who keep's appointing these crooked judges into our district???

Can you elaborate on what you meant about that Georgia law being in effect? Was there a change in the law?

Good for you suggarfoot. So refreshing to read what you have to say. Good points.

The monkey on the other hand is not funny and not entertaining. If we want comedy we watch Dr. Phil or Jerry Springer. Don't need bogus humor from the monkey.

Good for you suggarfoot! Worth reading your blogs!

I'm betting that Big Buckos are involved here and she is aiming for at least her share if not more!

ginga1414's picture

I spent almost 46 years working in Georgia courtrooms. In one local courtroom, a Fayette County Judge was trying a civil case that had been going on for several days. On what turned out to be the last day of the trial, the judge called for a lunch break. Upon returning from the lunch break, the judge announced that he was sure a lot of folks saw him eating lunch with the Plaintiff's attorneys. He further said that he had made up his mind and that he was about to rule on the case. He said that after he gave his ruling that he had "better not hear" anyone say that his lunch with the Plaintiff's lawyers had influenced his decision. Having said all of that, the judge immediately ruled in favor of the Plaintiff.

By the way, it was extremely evident that the Defendant should have prevailed.

Clearly, that judge didn't know when to keep his mouth shut!

Whar ye bin?

Well I happen to know these crooks slightly---been on a cruise or two wif them aboard.
They bout lak many PTC couples, I think. Fixated on impressin and spendin either dad's money or wastin their owne!

Hey, the judg thang is the onliest soap oprey I pay eney tention too round hyar!I cude writ a book bout courthouserules!!

Pappy + Brantley are kindred spirits all right. It's that Air National Guard Officers Adulterers Club. Don't look for Judge English to give a second thought to a subpoena.I agree with Bonkie-- it is quite a show! And Mudcat --it's the judges (all of 'em) fault for letting this case drag on. Lawyers on a case are like kids on a merry-go-round--- they won't get off until you make 'em.

Perhaps if the paper wanted to know the whole story, they should examine the transcripts of the August 16th hearing, which includes testimony from an attorney and the Chief of Police of Thomaston. After reading that, you'll figure out what has really transpired in this case.

Sick of these "judges" thinking they are demigods. They are elected and employed by us. Guess they get their attitudes from Washington.

positivelysouthernbelle's picture

Apparently the legal council for husband (that would be Alan Connell,Thomaston) might be disqualified as well-

Why was this interesting tidbit left out of the Munford's story?

Are you a relative of Freed? Your link is about him but nothing about why his motion (if he even made 1) to remove Connell. & I agree w/ Mudcat & others on here...What do we care about this case that has gone on too long & cost everyone.. county, 2 judge careers (deserved), plaintiff., defendent, children, bailiffs & all of us. You can't be related to Janet because all her people are from B'ham.


If someone has lived in Fayette for 30-40-50 years chances are they know most of the rest of their town in some manner or another, should we disqualify everyone the judge shook hands with during his campaign ?

How much is Ms. Crook's legal bills so far ?? Somebody's getting rich on this..

The JUDGES are the ones that have cost the taxpayers the money. Look at all of the judges that have resigned due to misconduct across the state in the past couple of years.....OVER 16! They work for us and need to act accordingly!!!

I have just read John Munford's article on Crook v. Crook. One aspect that jumped out at me was the former Judge English declined to appear at his deposition. Since when does the deposed get a choice? It is exactly this kind of preferential treatment that got us into trouble in the first place.

When will it end?

In the classic style of this district Brantley waits till the last hour to recuse himself..... as the hearing was scheduled tomorrow. He is already a proven liar from stating that George H. Bush appointed him to a committiee during the 90's to fluff his electoral resume. He was forced out of the election by this eroneus proclamation. Who keep's appointing these crooked alternate judges into our district???

bringinabroom's picture

Here you have all kinds of laws broken, adultery, sleeping with an officer of the court, public indecency, ignoring subpoenas, etc, etc... Brantley covering for Pappy.

I forget--- Pappy and all them get to keep their pensions why ?

Oh yeah, because we let them.

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

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