Judge to face ethics hearing over theft allegations

Mack Crawford

Mack Crawford

The state’s judicial watchdog panel has set a Jan. 30 hearing date to consider possible discipline against a Griffin Judicial Circuit judge who faces theft charges.

Superior Court Judge Mack Crawford was indicted in October for the alleged theft of court funds. The judge, who oversees cases in Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Upson counties, has pleaded not guilty. Crawford is currently suspended from his duties while the case is pending against him.

His criminal trial has not yet been set. In the meantime, a Judicial Qualifications Commission panel will hear testimony about the accusations against Crawford late this month at the Henry County government building. The panel’s members are presiding officer Robert McBurney, the chief Superior Court judge in Fulton County; Atlanta lawyer Jamala McFadden; and Cobb County Police Chief Michael Register.

If the panel finds against Crawford, a former state lawmaker who once headed Georgia’s public defender system, it can recommend to the Georgia Supreme Court that he be removed from office.

The theft charges against Crawford stem from a case he handled as a private attorney more than 15 years ago. In 2002, he represented two clients who placed $15,675 into the Pike County court's registry while their foreclosure case was pending. In 2009, a judge dismissed the case and ordered the funds be returned to Crawford's clients.

The funds stayed in the registry until last December when the clerk told Crawford she planned to send the money to the state as unclaimed property. But Crawford directed her to give him the funds, which she did, and the indictment alleges that was theft.

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