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Gwinnett judge resigns after controversial Confederate monument posts

The Gwinnett County judge suspended Tuesday for controversial Facebook comments about Confederate monuments and protesters has now resigned.

Jim Hinkle, a part-time magistrate judge for 14 years, tendered his resignation Wednesday, Chief Magistrate Judge Kristina Hammer Blum said in an emailed statement released through a Gwinnett County spokesman.

“For 14 years, Judge Hinkle has dutifully served this court,” Blum’s statement said. “He is a lifelong public servant and former Marine. However, he has acknowledged that his statements on social media have disrupted the mission of this Court, which is to provide justice for all.”

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Hinkle — who also served as mayor of the city of Grayson for more than two decades before retiring in 2013 — took to Facebook on Saturday to label those protesting against white supremacists rallying in Charlottesville, Virginia, as “snowflakes” with “no concept of history.” 

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On Tuesday morning, he followed that missive with another post, this one comparing “the nut cases tearing down monuments” to the so-called Islamic State. 

Blum previously told The AJC she had not been familiar with those inflammatory posts and other until she was asked for comment. Reached by phone Tuesday, Hinkle told The AJC that he didn’t think his Facebook posts were controversial but declined further comment.

“My decision to accept Judge Hinkle’s resignation is not a comment on his personal opinions; he is entitled to those,” Blum’s statement said. “While, thankfully, our Constitution protects the right of all citizens to express their opinions, Judges are held to a more stringent standard by the Judicial Canons.”

Those canons say, in part, that judges should “act at all times in a manner that promote public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” They also urge judges to avoid creating even the appearance of a bias.

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In addition to his posts about Confederate monuments and protesters, Hinkle also made several posts in recent years that could be construed as anti-Islamic, The AJC found.

Hinkle has been a member off the Georgia bar since 1969. He was 80 years old when he retired in 2013 after his second stint as Grayson’s mayor.

In Gwinnett, magistrate court judges manage cases that involve civil claims and county ordinance violations. They also sign arrest and search warrants and handle preliminary hearings in cases involving a range of alleged offenses, including felonies.

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