Hearing on Judge Bass to be held March 6
Grady County State Court Judge Bill Bass’ attempt to have his hearing before the Judicial Qualifications Commission held here has failed and a court date for early next month has been scheduled.
The JQC has charged Judge Bass with 11 counts of alleged illegal activity, judicial misconduct, and other conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
The purpose of the proceedings is, to determine whether or not Judge Bass is guilty of violations of the law, the Code of Judicial Conduct, willful misconduct in office, or other conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
The notice of formal proceedings was amended last Monday, Feb. 4, and a hearing date has been set for Wednesday, March 6, at 9 a.m. in the Cobb County Superior Court Building in Marietta. The hearing will be held in the ceremonial courtroom of the courthouse.
In scheduling the hearing to take place in Marietta, the JQC had ignored Bass’ request for the appointment of a special master to hear the case and to hold the hearing in Grady County where he was elected by the public to serve as the state court judge.
In his answer to the charges alleged by the JQC, Judge Bass acknowledges some clerical errors on his part in regard to fines and surcharges, but notes he was not aware of the error until the notice of the JQC probe into his conduct.
As part of his answer to the notice of formal proceedings, Judge Bass requests that if the collection of administrative costs is deemed improper that the JQC send written notice to all of the state court judges in Georgia so that they do not unknowingly commit a violation.
According to the judge, he no longer adds administrative fees to court fines and fees.
Bass claims that allowing his son, Cairo attorney Bill Bass Jr., to fill in for him was not a violation of Canon 3C. In his answer to the JQC, it is noted “a judge is not prohibited from nepotism. Instead, the judge should avoid it.” Judge Bass states that his son was not paid and did not receive financial benefit for sitting in for him.
In his answer, Judge Bass alleges the preparer of the notice of formal proceedings is guilty of bias.
“Judge Bass may have an idiosyncratic style on occasion, but he would ask the commission to make a reasonable and reasoned application of the text of the Canons in the full context of the actual events. To pull isolated incidents out-of-context to try to make a broad, general violation is unjust to a judge who has been elected by the citizens of his county,” Bass’ attorney Christopher Townley wrote to the JQC.
In the answer filed with the JQC, Judge Bass admits to not being “perfect” and, in hindsight, he admits “some matters should have been addressed differently.”
However, Judge Bass contends he did not act “corruptly or dishonestly” and has worked to “temper justice with mercy.”
In a statement issued late last year, Attorney Townley stated, “Allegations have been made against Judge Bill Bass. Some allegations are false, some are taken out of context, and some are simply making a mountain from a molehill.”
Townley also stated, “Judge Bass has been selected for leadership positions by the Council of State Court Judges (approximately 130 of his peers). He was chosen as the ‘Best Judge in Grady County.’ Most importantly, he was honored to be elected in a contested race by the citizens of Grady County to serve them as Judge.”
Townley also stated that Judge Bass would not “tuck tail and quit” because some people want someone else on the State Court bench.