Another judge accused of misconduct

A South Georgia judge is under investigation over allegations that he let politics and friendships dictate his actions in court.

The notice of the investigation came days after another judge pleaded guilty to three felonies and became the eighth state jurist to leave office this year after allegations of misconduct.

Grady County State Court Judge J. William Bass Sr. is accused of being vindictive against people he believed had supported his political opponent; of asking for a pay raise for his part-time work based on the amount of money he collected in fines; and of exceeding his authority in setting fines to “maximize” revenue collection for the county.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission gave Bass notice Friday of formal proceedings on 11 counts of alleged misconduct.

Bass declined to comment, saying his attorney would speak for him. His attorney could not be reached late Friday afternoon.

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“You have been verbally hostile, both in and out of court, when confronting persons you believed voted for or supported your opponent in the election,” the notice said. “In court, you were verbally hostile to an attorney after he made a financial contribution to your opponent in the election. You made a loud and threatening statement in court to the attorney: ‘I know you gave money to my opponent. Don’t come back.’ ”

Other allegations are that Bass:

• Asked the sheriff to withdraw a local company’s approval to write bonds because the owners did not support his candidacy, and terminated a private probation company’s contract because it would not publicly endorse him;

• Appointed his son to serve as State Court judge in his absence;

• Paid the fine for a defendant he had sentenced for shoplifting;

• Offered legal advice on Facebook to a woman whose brother was charged with DUI, then got the case assigned to himself;

•Announced in court that he had been falsely accused of a sexual relationship with a staff member;

•Made an inappropriate reference to the perceived sexual orientation of a man he was sentencing;

•Took Hispanic defendants out of the courtroom for conversations that were not recorded.

Earlier this week, Camden County Probate Judge Shirley Wise pleaded guilty to theft of vital records fees and to a kickback scheme involving a county services contract. Wise also admitted she violated her oath of office by taking in more compensation than she was entitled to receive.

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