AJC columnist Jay Bookman pointed out in a recent article that judges would like to handle their judicial disciplining behind closed doors. The move to secrecy is important since the Judicial Qualifications Commission has publicly reprimanded 60 judges in Georgia over the last eight years. But now, Bookman writes, judges want to change the process dramatically. In addition to changing how the JQC is appointed, they also want to
… close all future commission proceedings to the public. The public would not be made aware that a complaint had been filed, and it would not have access to the evidence unless the judge in question was found guilty. Proponents claim the secrecy is needed to protect the reputations of judges who are innocent, yet that’s a special privilege not extended to defendants in any courtroom in the state.
The proposed changes will be part of a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November.
Journalists in the state should make the public aware of these changes toward more secrecy that will make judges less accountable to the public. Ask judges why they should have secret hearings when the public get open trials.