In a statement responding to a Channel 2 request, Fulton County’s chief magistrate judge stands by her court’s decision and says she welcomes accountability following criticism of a Buckhead crime suspect’s bond release.
In particular, APD Zone 2 commander Major Barry Shaw highlighted the signature bond release of a co-defendant named Michael Hill, who’s been accused of running over a homeowner in one of the theft cases.
Police said they had no idea about Michael Hill’s release until they showed up to submit more warrants in the case.
At the time, court records had not been entered into the system, and Kirk told Carr she wanted to respond appropriately.
Late Friday, she did in a two-page statement that chastised the way police “inflamed” the issue rather than taking a productive approach, and explained how Hill’s lack of a criminal record and the evidence submitted to the courts all played a way in the Level 3 pretrial bond decision was made, per Georgia law.
Kirk also called this outcry an opportunity to take a closer look at the First Appearance model.
Meanwhile, Buckhead resident and Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts is getting involved, telling Carr he plans to bring Atlanta police and chief judges from magistrate and superior courts together this week.
It's nothing new,” Pitts said. “It's sort of cyclical in that it happens periodically where you have these rash of crimes in any part of the city and you have citizens rightfully get up in arms.”
While Fulton County has no police jurisdiction or say-so over the courts, they do fund the courts, Pitts explained.
“You have the Police Department pointing their fingers at judges and the judges pointing their fingers at police officers,” Pitts said. “In my role as chair we’ll be bringing them together to find out what can we do specifically to begin to address the problem.
Buckhead residents have encouraged one another to contact Kirk and Pitts in a unified effort to better understand the judicial process playing out. Pitts has also echoed recent statements made by Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields -- he has warned neighbors against making themselves more vulnerable in the crimes by maintaining locked doors and keeping valuables from being exposed.
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