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Georgia Supreme Court names four to new Judicial Qualifications Commission

June 28, 2017 GMT

ATLANTA — Chief Justice P. Harris Hines announced Tuesday that the Supreme Court of Georgia had appointed four members to the reconstituted Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Effective Saturday, the four new appointees are:

— DeKalb County State Court Judge Stacey K. Hydrick;

— Judge Louisa Abbot, of the Superior Court of the Eastern Circuit (Chatham County);

— Judge Robert C.I. McBurney, of the Superior Court of the Atlanta Circuit;

— Jamala S. McFadden, an employment attorney in Atlanta.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission is the constitutional body that educates Georgia judges about their ethical duties and conducts investigations and hearings regarding judges’ misconduct. Last November, Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment to abolish the existing commission and to authorize the General Assembly to replace it. In April 2017, the General Assembly passed House Bill 126, which reformed and reconstituted the commission.

Under the legislation, the new commission, which starts Saturday, will have two separate panels: a seven-member Investigative Panel that will handle the investigative, prosecutorial and administrative functions, and a three-member Hearing Panel that will be responsible for adjudicating formal charges filed against judges by the Investigative Panel and making recommendations to the Georgia Supreme Court regarding disciplinary and incapacity orders.

Each panel has judge, attorney and citizen members. The Supreme Court appoints four members to the new commission, and the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House each appoints two members.

“The Georgia Supreme Court strongly supports the important work of the Judicial Qualifications Commission,” Hines said. “We believe the reconstituted JQC will provide more effective regulation of judicial ethics with a higher level of due process, and we are grateful to these extraordinary appointees for their willingness to serve our State in such a crucial role.”

At Monday’s oral arguments, the Georgia Supreme Court thanked Judge Tilman E. “Tripp” Self III of the Georgia Court of Appeals and Judge Patsy Y. Porter of the State Court of Fulton County for their service as judge members of the commission during the transition period. Their terms end Friday.

Hydrick, State court judge since 2011, was appointed to a four-year term as a judge member of the Investigative Panel of the commission. A former assistant prosecutor who also has worked in insurance defense litigation.

Abbot was appointed to a two-year term as a judge member of the Investigative Panel of the commission. In October 2000, Abbot was appointed by former Gov. Roy Barnes to the Superior Court of the Eastern Judicial District.

McBurney is appointed to a three-year term as the judge member of the Hearing Panel of the commission. He has served a Superior Court judge since 2012 and previously was an assistant U.S. attorney in Atlanta.

McFadden was appointed to a one-year term as the attorney member of the Hearing Panel of the commission. She worked for nearly 10 years at the law firm now known as Eversheds Sutherland before starting her own practice and is a partner with The Employment Law Solution: McFadden Davis LLC.