By: Kara Duffy
September 25, 2013
Grady County, GA- A lawsuit filed by The Southern Center For Human Rights is demanding that Grady County State Court Officials return thousands of dollars to its citizens.
Sarah Geraghty, the Senior Attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights said, "We found that between June 2011 and July 2012, alone, the county collected almost $300,000 in unauthorized 'administrative costs' from about 540 people who came before the courts."
Geraghty said the case was filed on behalf of Roberta Jones.
Jones pled guilty to a driving under the influence charge in July 2012 and was sentenced by Judge William Bass, Sr.
"The court imposed a $300 fine which it was authorized to do under the law, but in addition, the court imposed a $700 'administrative cost,' an additional payment to the county, and the court had no authority to do that," Geraghty said.
This is not the first time Judge Bass, Sr. has had issues with the law.
In December 2012, the Judicial Qualifications Commission charged him with 11 counts of misconduct.
One of those allegations claimed Bass issued illegal fees to be paid by defendants, like the one Jones says she was ordered to pay.
In a Public Reprimand to Bass, Sr. the JQC said:
"You have admitted that without any legal authority, you ordered the collection of funds, which you called, 'Administrative Costs' from criminal defendants and illegally charged those costs and exacted payment from defendants in what appeared to be an effort to 'maximize' the collection of revenue which the county was not entitled to receive."
We reached out to Grady County's Attorney, Kevin Cauley. He said via email: "I received the suit earlier today. We have not had a chance to review the complaint yet but will respond to the action in due course. We do not have any further information to share regarding the law suit at this time."
We also reached out to Judge Bass, Sr. who did not have a comment at the time.