Byline: Terry Dickson
BRUNSWICK | Glynn County Drug Court opened Wednesday with a substitute on the bench and its founding judge awaiting the disposition of judicial ethics charges against her.
As he has before, Chief Magistrate Tim Barton filled in for Chief Superior Court Judge Amanda F. Williams, who faces a hearing - probably in January - on 12 charges of violations of judicial ethics. Among them are that she presided in cases in which her family members were attorneys, that she showed favor to friends and those with high social standing, and that she violated defendants' rights, sometimes jailing them without proper hearings, denying them access to lawyers and yelling at them from the bench.
Meanwhile, the business of the courts goes on as the other four judges in the five-county Brunswick Judicial Circuit divvy up pending cases.
"I don't think anything is going to be delayed," said Judge Anthony Harrison from his Woodbine office.
Harrison said he will try a triple homicide case in Hazlehurst beginning the Monday after Thanksgiving. Superior Court Judge E.M. Wilkes III will pick the jury next week, he said.
Abdul Rahman Bessent, 23, Joseph Dashawn Stuckey, 22, and Roderick Devard Taylor, 21, all of Jacksonville, will go on trial for murder in the Dec. 21, 2008, slayings of three people at Sea Parc apartments in Kingsland.
The trial was to have been held in Woodbine last month, but after it became apparent that an impartial jury could not be picked in Camden County, Williams stopped jury selection and moved the trial to Hazlehurst.
The judges have agreed on a division of the work that will be formalized, Harrison said.
"There's an order circulating around among the judges," he said.
As the most senior of the judges, Wilkes is drafting the formal order and sending it to Harrison, Stephen Scarlett and Stephen Kelley.
"We're just going to have to fill the void when we can," he said, and some of the work may go to senior judges.