Paulding judge under investigation retires early

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Paulding County Superior Court Judge James Osborne, who was under investigation by the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC), will retire from the bench three months early rather than face a formal hearing before the commission.

Osborne’s decision to retire was disclosed in a filing to the Georgia Supreme Court Tuesday by Robert D. Ingram, the Judicial Qualifications Commission chairman.

“After the Commission commenced an inquiry, but prior to voting to hold a formal hearing, this manner was concluded by Osborne’s retirement,” Ingram wrote. “The effective date of that retirement is October 1, 2014.”

Ingram’s document does not specify why Osborne was being investigated, but the judge created a controversy earlier this year when he filed qualification papers during the week of March 3 to run for another term as judge.

In the latter part of qualifying week, Osborne’s daughter, Elizabeth Osborne Williams, also qualified to run for his judicial post – at which point Judge Osborne withdrew from the race.

Osborne’s withdrawal meant that his daughter was left as the only person who had qualified to run for the judgeship, but that move attracted the attention of the JQC, which investigates the conduct of Georgia judges. After the JQC began looking into the matter, Elizabeth Osborne Williams agreed to withdraw from the race also.

Elizabeth Osborne Williams’ withdrawal meant that no candidates had qualified to run for the judgeship. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state’s chief elections officer, determined that he could not legally reopen qualifying for the judicial office.

Since the judgeship will now become vacant as of Oct. 1, Gov. Nathan Deal will have to appoint a replacement for Osborne.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: James Osborne , Judicial Qualifications Commission , Paulding County Superior Court