State judicial watchdog commission elects new leaders

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Michael Boggs (left) swears in new Judicial Qualifications Commission board members: Bibb County Superior Court Judge Verda Colvin (center) and former U.S. congressman Bob Barr, who is with his wife Jeri. The ceremony took place July 19, 2019, at the State Bar of Georgia headquarters in Atlanta. (BILL RANKIN/brankin@ajc.com)
Georgia Supreme Court Justice Michael Boggs (left) swears in new Judicial Qualifications Commission board members: Bibb County Superior Court Judge Verda Colvin (center) and former U.S. congressman Bob Barr, who is with his wife Jeri. The ceremony took place July 19, 2019, at the State Bar of Georgia headquarters in Atlanta. (BILL RANKIN/brankin@ajc.com)

A Valdosta litigator will chair the state panel that investigates allegations of judicial misconduct.

Pope Langdale, who specializes in wrongful death and personal injury cases, was elected Friday by a unanimous vote to head the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s investigative panel. DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Stacey Hydrick was elected vice chair.

In recent years, the JQC has had a number of high-profile cases. In June, it filed ethics charges against Atlanta Municipal Court Judge Terrinee Gundy, accusing her of chronic tardiness and absenteeism — and then covering it up.

Last year, the JQC brought charges against Superior Court Judge Mack Crawford of the Griffin Judicial Circuit, accusing him of the theft of more than $15,000 in court funds. After the seven-member JQC investigative panel filed charges, the commission's three-person hearing panel, after holding a trial, recommended that Crawford be removed from office. That is now pending before the state Supreme Court, which will have the final say.

Valdosta lawyer Pope Langdale, the new chair of the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission’s investigative panel, at the State Bar of Georgia offices in Atlanta. (BILL RANKIN/brankin@ajc.com)
Valdosta lawyer Pope Langdale, the new chair of the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission’s investigative panel, at the State Bar of Georgia offices in Atlanta. (BILL RANKIN/brankin@ajc.com)

Also Friday, state Supreme Court Justice Michael Boggs swore-in two new members of the JQC's investigative panel: former U.S. congressman and U.S. attorney Bob Barr and Superior Court Judge Verda Colvin of the Macon Judicial Circuit.

Gov. Brian Kemp recently appointed Barr to the JQC panel. Colvin is an appointee of the state Supreme Court.

They join current panel members Langdale, Hydrick, Marietta lawyer James Balli, Atlanta investigator Richard Hyde and Macon businessman Warren Selby.