Judge’s conduct questioned in DeKalb schools appeal

Prosecutors in a DeKalb County schools corruption case criticized the conduct of a judge and asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to keep two convicts imprisoned, according to court filings released Friday.

DeKalb prosecutors raised questions about Judge Cynthia Becker’s actions, saying she gave advance notice to the defendants — without also informing the district attorney’s office — just before attempting to reverse their convictions.

The Georgia Court of Appeals will have to decide how to handle the case of former DeKalb schools Chief Operating Officer Pat Reid, who is serving a 15-year sentence, and her architect ex-husband, Tony Pope, who is serving an eight-year sentence. A jury convicted them in November 2013 of manipulating school construction projects for personal gain.

Court filings by Reid’s and Pope’s attorneys argue that Becker was within her authority to order new trials for them.

Becker sought to overturn the convictions of Reid and Pope on Oct. 27 because she didn’t find the testimony of former DeKalb schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis to be truthful.

Lewis had reached a plea deal with prosecutors to testify against Reid and Pope in exchange for a sentence of 12 months on probation. Instead, Becker decided to sentence Lewis to 12 months in jail.

The Court of Appeals overturned Lewis jail sentence Oct. 23, and Becker then reversed the convictions of Reid and Pope.

DeKalb prosecutors made an emergency appeal to halt Becker’s action, and the Court of Appeals agreed to do so last week.

Prosecutors wrote in their latest legal filing they had reported Becker’s conduct “to the appropriate agency,” without saying what agency that was. The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission oversees judges’ conduct.

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