DA: Deputy caught judge, public defender having sex

An investigation has revealed a former Fayette County judge had a sexual relationship with a public defender who had 225 cases decided in his courtroom.

Chief Superior Court Judge Paschal English and Kim Cornwell, an assistant public defender, were caught having sex in a parked car in October 2008, according to documents released Friday by District Attorney Scott Ballard.

A Fayette sheriff's deputy recognized English, and later learned that Cornwell was a public defender, Ballard said. The deputy's dashboard camcorder recorded part of the incident, but that video is no longer available, according to Sheriff Wayne Hannah. No charges were filed after the incident.

"Beyond that, we don't know when the intimate relationship began," Ballard said Friday.

After the two were discovered in the Water Lake subdivision, Cornwell represented defendants in 225 cases in Judge English's courtroom, Ballard said.

Despite the relationship, the investigation did not find evidence of any wrongdoing in the courtroom, according to Jeff Turner, chief investigator.

"I do not find any evidence that any instances where the state or defendant were harmed by actions of the court ever took place in Judge English's courtroom at all, much less when Kim Cornwell was the attorney for the defendant," Turner wrote about his investigation.

Turner also said both English, 66, and Cornwell, 49, declined to comment for the investigation.

In an unrelated incident, English resigned on April 23 after it became clear he had ignored a complaint from an attorney that she was being sexually harassed by another judge in the Griffin Judicial Circuit.

Months earlier, attorney Susan Brown told English that she was being repeatedly harassed with crude comments by Superior Court Judge Johnnie Caldwell. Caldwell resigned April 19. Caldwell and English represented half of the county's Griffin Judicial Circuit’s Superior Court team.

Cornwell was placed on administrative leave when allegations of the romance surfaced. After her resignation, Public Defender Joseph Saia and Ballard were asked to investigate the alleged affair. On June 1, Cornwell was placed on leave without pay, Saia said.

English was a judge for 23 years. He appeared on the reality TV show “Survivor” in 2002.

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