Was punishment too light for Georgia judge who lost it in court?

The state’s judicial watchdog agency on Friday closed its case against a Floyd County judge whose vulgar and bizarre exchange with a murder defendant transpired during one of the most unusual court hearings in the history of Georgia jurisprudence.

Superior Court Judge Bryant Durham was publicly admonished for violating the canons of ethics for judges when he told defendant Denver Fenton Allen he “looked like a queer” and then challenged Allen to masturbate in front of him in open court.

News of the admonishment drew rebukes from members of the legal community who thought the punishment was far too light.

Among them is Atlanta criminal defense attorney Lawrence Zimmerman, who believes Durham should have been removed from the bench.

“His behavior was beyond the pale,” Zimmerman said Monday. “This is not who we should have serving as judges and serving the public. You have to have a certain temperament to be a judge, you have to remain above the fray. Now he has lost the public’s trust, and everyone who now appears before him will be questioning his ethics and integrity.”

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To learn more about the case, which became an internet sensation, please read our story on myajc.com.

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