Judge steps down, Carlton Gary case reassigned

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - After 27 years on the bench between State and Superior Courts, Judge Robert Johnston, III is stepping down from the Muscogee County Superior Court.

Tuesday night, Johnston confirmed to WTVM he was leaving due to health reasons.

Today, News Leader Nine learned what will happen with the most high profile case on Judge Johnston's docket.

It's the case of convicted killer, Carlton Gary.

Johnston's boss, Chief Superior Court Judge John Allen spoke with News Leader Nine this afternoon about the future of that case that will now move to Judge Frank Jordan's court.

"Administratively, the case has been reassigned to Judge Jordan. I've spoken with the district attorney and I've attempted to contact the defense attorney, and if they have any objections in that regard, then they'll voice them to Judge Jordan about that procedure," Judge Allen said.

Also today, rumors of a potential investigation by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission surrounding Judge Johnston's resignation.

The JQC is the governing body that looks into misconduct by judges in the state of Georgia.

Chief Judge Allen, a member of that commission, could not confirm nor deny any investigation.

And if there were, he would not be part of it, since Judge Johnston is in his district.

We asked him to discuss what would be the procedure for a formal investigation of a judge.

"Anyone can file a complaint against a judge. And any investigation prior to a petition being filed against a judge is confidential, and the investigations are as well. And for the very reason that they're just allegations...and they may or may not be true," Judge Allen said.

All of Judge Johnston's docket will be reassigned to other judges within the circuit on a basis of seniority.

As for Carlton Gary's case, the DNA hearing is still slated for Monday, February 22nd

Though District Attorney Julia Slater has confirmed an agreement pending with Gary's defense counsel about some DNA evidence to be tested.

If Judge Jordan consents, there may be no hearing at all.

Phone calls to Gary's attorney, Jack Martin, were not returned.

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