Judge Faces Charges

ATLANTA (AP) _ A Clinch County judge faces charges that he appointed non-lawyers to hear criminal cases, pressed a magistrate
judge to help one of his business associates and signed an illegal order to collect court fees that were later distributed to county officials.

Chief State Court Judge Berrien Sutton will face a hearing before the Judicial Qualifications Commission, a state agency that investigates Georgia judges and has power to recommend removing them from office.

Sutton's lawyer says he has done nothing wrong and looks forward to proving it.

The charges come weeks after the commission filed similar charges against Clinch County Superior Court judge Brooks E. Blitch III. The 72-year-old Blith faces charges that he ordered illegal payments to county employees, ordered the early release of imprisoned felons and presided over a case involving his son.

Blitch's attorneys have said an investigation will prove he is innocent. Blitch and Sutton have not been charged with any crimes.

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