Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brantley Magistrate Indicted

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brantley Magistrate Indicted

Article excerpt

NAHUNTA -- Brantley County Chief Magistrate Huey Ham yesterday vowed to remain on the bench despite being indicted on misdemeanor charges stemming from a pistol-waving confrontation with two men with disabilities.

A Brantley County grand jury has indicted Ham on one count each of pointing a firearm at another person and disorderly conduct. The indictment was unsealed Monday.

Both charges are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Prosecutors plan to take the case to trial.

But the grand jury did not return indictments for the most serious charges possible: two related counts of aggravated assault, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The grand jury also no-billed another misdemeanor count of pointing a firearm at a person.

District Attorney Rick Currie said prosecutors are satisfied the grand jury did its job.

"I believe the grand jury's action was soundly based on the evidence in the case," Currie said.

Yesterday, Ham conducted business as usual in his chambers at the county courthouse in Nahunta, which is midway between Brunswick and Waycross.

"I will not resign under any circumstances," Ham said. "But I will retire if allowed. I have been a law-abiding citizen all my life."

Ham, 60, declined further comment except to describe the no-billed aggravated assault charges as "totally ridiculous, as the grand jury has proven."

A judge for 10 years, Ham is in his final term as the county's chief magistrate. He will be eligible for retirement in less than two years, authorities said.

Georgia law states that a judge cannot be suspended from office unless first indicted on a felony charge.

The indictment stems from a June 1 confrontation involving Ham and two men who were riding in an all-terrain vehicle in woods near Nahunta. Ham contends the land is owned by his family.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation found that Ham fired pistol shots into the dirt during an argument with Randy Rhoden, 37, and his uncle, Henry Albritton, 66, both of Nahunta. …

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