Posted Mar 01, 2011 08:08 pm CST
Former Alapaha Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Brooks E. Blitch III was disbarred in a Georgia Supreme Court opinion (PDF) that also sent a cautionary message to the state’s judges. In the 4½-page opinion that disbarred Blitch, 77, the court said: “We cannot rightfully expect members of the public to respect the law and remain confident in the integrity and impartiality of our judiciary where judges themselves do not respect and follow the law.”
Blitch, who pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge on Dec. 1, 2009, was disbarred in a unanimous decision Monday, according to the Florida Times-Union. Blitch had fought for a lighter penalty, filing a petition for voluntary discipline in which he asked for a one-year suspension, according to the opinion.
In 2008, Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission brought civil misconduct charges against the judge, and he resigned from the bench after that, the Florida Times-Union reports.
According to the paper, an FBI federal investigation indicated that while serving as a judge, Blitch based case decisions on information he obtained during closed-door meetings with litigants. After a plea deal, Blitch was given three years probation and fined $100,100. In return for his plea, federal prosecutors did not pursue 13 other corruption charges against him, the Florida Times-Union reports.
Blitch was a judge for almost 28 years in the South Georgia Circuit that includes the Atkinson, Berrien, Clinch, Cook and Lanier counties.