Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hammill Back on Job, Awaits Ruling

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hammill Back on Job, Awaits Ruling

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

BRUNSWICK -- Glynn County Magistrate Joe Hammill was back on the job yesterday after spending two days in Savannah trying to keep his job.

Six members of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, an appointed panel that disciplines judges, heard two days of testimony and arguments in its inquiry about Hammill's fitness to remain on the bench.

Hammill said yesterday he is hoping for the best as he awaits the commission's recommendation to the Georgia Supreme Court, which has the sole authority to remove judges.

"The worst part is I've brought embarrassment to Glynn County, and I'm very sorry for that,'' he said.

Hammill admitted every act presented by Keith Adams, a lawyer who was presenting the case to the commission, but had explanations for all of them.

A transcript of the two-day hearing will be finished in about a week, then the commission will meet to deliberate and make its recommendation.

"The best scenario is I've paid and I've learned from my mistakes," Hammill said. "I would hope the worst would be a reprimand.''

The complaints covered nearly every area of court procedure.

Adams presented evidence that Hammill violated the rights of due process in issuing orders that a deputy seize guns from a defendant, that a woman pay money damages, and amending a damages award all without conducting a hearing. Adams said Hammill failed to hold court with patience and decorum in using profanity, assuring an African-American defendant he would not be required to pick cotton for community service, asking a woman if she were a Christian and belittling a woman's fears of an alleged stalker.

Hammill's lawyer, Richard Phillips, tried to impeach some of the witnesses' credibility before the panel of two judges, two lawyers and two newspaper publishers. …

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