Ga. Judge Resigns After Questions Raised About Facebook Contacts

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A Georgia judge has resigned from the bench after questions surfaced about his Facebook relationship with a defendant.

Chief Judge Ernest “Bucky” Woods of Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court, 54, told the Fulton County Daily Report that he is retiring from the job. “I just got tired of living under a microscope,” he said.

Woods’ resignation follows allegations about an inappropriate relationship with a defendant, Tara Elizabeth Black. The relationship was chronicled in what appear to be Facebook e-mails that were turned over to the circuit’s district attorney and obtained through an open records request by the Fulton County Daily Report and the Clayton Tribune, the first publication to write about the issue.

District Attorney Brian Rickman said he learned of the e-mails after the parents of Black’s friend brought them to his attention, along with a complaint that Woods was unfairly jailing their son, the Daily Report story says.

Woods told the Fulton County Daily Report that some of the e-mails were real and some were fake, but he didn’t say which ones were fake.

According to the e-mails, Woods apparently initiated the relationship with Black when he contacted her through Facebook and said he noticed that she worked at a hair salon. His e-mail said he was thinking of finding a new person to give him a haircut. Black responded she would refer Woods to a colleague, since she didn’t cut hair. Later, the two agreed to meet, and Black asked to borrow money for her rent, according to the e-mails.

In other e-mails, Woods and Black discussed strategy in her case involving a charge of theft by deception, and a drug case of one of Black’s friends.

Woods signed an order allowing Black to be released on her own recognizance. The case was later dropped, Rickman said, because it should have been a civil matter. After Rickman met with the Woods to discuss the e-mails, the judge also recused himself from the case of Black’s friend.

Rickman said the judge’s conduct was not a criminal violation.

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