On November 16, 2022, 58 formal charges of judicial misconduct were filed against Chief Judge Robert Reeves of the Middle Judicial Circuit, including Emanuel, Candler, Jefferson, Toombs, and Washington counties.
Complaints Pertaining to Emanuel County:
Of the complaints, there are several of note for Emanuel County. One of the complaints states that between May and July of 2021, outside of the Emanuel County courtroom, a mother was discussing her son’s drug related offense with Investigator Stuart Fagler. Judge Reeves overheard this conversation, and, according to the complaint, said words to the effect of “I don’t know why you are talking to him [Investigator] about drugs. He’s the biggest drug dealer in Emanuel County.” This led to Count 6, per the Judicial Qualification Committee - “ Between May 2021 and July 2021, Judge Reeves failed to be dignified and courteous to people with whom he dealt with in his official capacity in violation of Rule 2.8 (B) of the Code of Judicial Conduct…”
Additionally, Judge Reeves used his title as Judge to assist with fundraising efforts for
The Sunshine House. This led to charges 49 - 58, violations of Rule 1.2 (B), Rule 1.3, Rule 2.4 (
C ), Rule 3.1 ( C ), Rule 1.2 (A), Rule 1.2 (B), Rule 1.3, Rule 2.4 ( C ), Rule 3.1 ( C ), and Rule 3.7
Judge Reeves faces several other complaints, including sexual harassment, requesting personal favors pertaining to court cases, and general misconduct.
All of the complaints are filed as violations of the following codes of judicial conduct:
Rule 1.1 - Judges shall respect and comply with the law
Rule 1.2 ( A ) - An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our
society. Judges shall participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing high standards of
conduct, and shall personally observe such standards of conduct so that the independence,
integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary may be preserved. The provisions of this Code should
be construed and applied to further that objective.
Rule 1.3 - Judges shall not lend the prestige of their office to advance the private interests of the
judge or others.
Rule 2.3 - A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest
bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or
harassment based upon age, disability, ethnicity, gender or sex, marital status, national origin,
political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Judges shall not
permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.
Rule 2.4 ( C ) - Judges shall not convey or enable others to convey the impression that any
person or organization is in a position to influence the judge.
Rule 2.8 ( B ) - Judges shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses,
lawyers, and others with whom they deal in their official capacity, and shall require similar
conduct of all persons subject to their direction and control.
Rule 2.9 ( A ) - Judges shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding,
or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law. Judges shall not
initiate, permit, or consider other communications made to them outside the
presence of the parties, or their lawyers, concerning a pending proceeding or
impending matter ….
Rule 3.1 ( C ) - Judges may engage in extra-judicial activities, provided that doing so will not
interfere with proper performance of judicial duties or cast doubt on their capacity to impartially
decide any issue.
Rule 3.7 ( A ) ( 3 ) - (A) Judges may engage in activities concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, provided that doing so will not interfere with the performance of their official duties or cast doubt on their capacity to impartially decide any issue (3) Judges may assist such organizations in raising funds, and may make recommendations to public and private fund-granting agencies on projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, but judges shall not personally solicit funds during public fundraising activities."
The Crossroads Chronicle reached out to S. Lester Tate III, the attorney from Akin & Tate Law Firm in Cartersville, GA that is representing Judge Reeves. His statement is as follows: “Nobody is perfect and Judge Reeves certainly understands that he may have said things in jest over the years that others did not find funny or considered offensive. He apologizes for any remarks that had that effect. But the idea that any of these mistakes--or all of them combined--would justify removing him from the bench is preposterous. And we would vigorously oppose any such effort. Judge Reeves has had a long and respected career as a lawyer, trial judge and community leader. Between 75 and 100 people wrote letters in support of Judge Reeves when they learned that the Judicial Qualifications Commission had launched this investigation.”
The Crossroads Chronicle has reached out to The Sunshine House Regional Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director, Carol Donaldson for a statement regarding the complaints filed against Judge Reeves. Her statement is as follows: “The statements against Judge Reeves concerning The Sunshine House Children’s Advocacy Center are accurate, but it must be pointed out that Judge Bobby Reeves has been a supporter of The Sunshine House CAC since the late 1980s and certainly since its establishment in 1992. He and his wife worked diligently doing manual labor to see that there was a place for prevention of abuse and neglect for children and families in Emanuel County long before he was elected Superior Court Judge. As I stated to the Judicial Qualifications Committee (JQC), the success of The Sunshine House CAC is in his blood and he has been enthusiastic in his support of the center and its progress. It should be noted that when he was advised by the JQC he stopped any association or activity with The Sunshine House CAC. We are a neutral resource to law enforcement and DFCS investigators and our well trained and professional staff testify in court in that manner. We remain proud of our long association with Judge Bobby Reeves and his family. They are strong supporters of our work with abused and neglected children and families in crisis.”
The Crossroads Chronicle is following this situation closely, and any updates, including the answer to be filed by Judge Reeves’s legal team.