Judge Investigated

ATLANTA (AP) _ New allegations have been filed by Georgia's
judicial investigating arm against Superior Court Judge Brooks
Blitch of Clinch County. The Judicial Qualifications Commission
claimed today that Blitch signed blank probation arrest warrants
and distributed them to officers throughout his circuit.

The commission also alleges that Blitch violated judicial canon
by talking with probation officers about suspects without holding a
hearing or notifying the victim and prosecutors.

The charges come nearly three weeks after the commission filed
seven other misconduct claims against Blitch. He is also accused of
ordering illegal payments to county employees, ordering the early
release of imprisoned felons and presiding over a case involving
his son.

The 72-year-old judge is one of the most powerful politicians in
rural Clinch County, near the Georgia-Florida state line, where he
has served as a judge since 1980. He faces no criminal charges, but
the commission has the power to recommend removing them from
office.

Blitch has hired former Governor Roy Barnes to defend him. The
commission, meanwhile, has tapped former state Attorney General
Mike Bowers to prosecute its case against the judge.


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