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Chief judge for Athens-Clarke, Oconee counties faces ethics charge

Western Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Eric Norris

By Joe Johnson

The chief judge for the Western Judicial Circuit is facing an ethics charge for allegedly calling a man into his chambers and berating him for criticizing the judge in a Facebook post.

According to a formal charge filed May 12 by Charles Boring, director of the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC), Judge Eric Norris orchestrated a meeting with Nathan Owens in July “to chastise and berate” Owens over his Facebook post.

When Owens said he wanted an attorney, the judge told him to sit down, giving Owens the impression he was being detained, according to the charge.

Norris’s attorney, Dennis Cathey, on Tuesday said he was unable to discuss the case while it was pending.

However, he said,” I’m confident that with the character of Eric Norris, who has been an exemplary citizen, attorney, jurist and member of the military that this matter will be resolved quickly and fairly.”

Norris was appointed to the bench in 2016 by then-Gov. Nathan Deal. Earlier this month, he was named chief judge of the Western Judicial Circuit, which includes the Superior Courts of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties.

Owens had been an associate with Double O Bonding, a bail bondsman company in Athens owned by his brother. He is a vocal critic of cash bail reform in Georgia.

Nathan Owens

Owens’ July 5 Facebook post for which he allegedly was berated by Norris reads as follows:

*Rapist on the Loose in Athens, GA*

“Only women who get raped are women who kind of deserve it.”- Alex Michael Mosby

Criminal accountability has hit a new low in Athens-Clarke County.

Alex Michael Mosby is a 29 year old man with a lengthy criminal history including numerous sexual assaults, numerous violent offenses and several failure to appears.

In April of 2018, Mosby was indicted on Rape, Kidnapping, and 2 counts of Aggravated Sodomy with Force. The victim, a female UGA student, was able to get away from Mosby and locked herself in her bathroom while she called 911 for help. Athens-Clarke County Police arrived on scene and found Mosby laughing and naked in the bed where the Rape just occurred. Mosby was arrested on site. While in jail, he picked up an additional charge of Public Indecency when he exposed himself to a female detention officer.

On December 7, 2018, Judge Eric Norris ordered that Alex Michael Mosby be released on an unsecured “OR”, own recognizance bond( aka: Get out of jail free card). Mosby was able to sign his name on a piece of paper and walk out the doors of the Athens-Clarke County Jail after a mere pinky promise to appear at trial despite a continued pattern of missing required court dates. No collateral was posted. No third party involved to insure accountability. Guess what? Alex Michael Mosby missed his trial date on June 14, 2019. There is now an active bench warrant for his arrest. He still has not been located.

Sadly, this wasn’t Mosby’s 1st time accused of raping someone. Court records show on August 29, 2016 he raped a female UGA student at her address on campus.

Court records also indicate Mosby’s own transcripts:

“Only women who get raped are women who kind of deserve it.”

“... and then she tried to go out and I was like “nah nah nah nah nah.” So I shut the door and shit, locked it, and she was like “wait, what are you doing?”

“And she starts trying to get loud, and I was like “shh do not get loud.” I felt like she was trying to like alert some folks to some shit.”

“We finna have sex, like, cause she like at least owe me that”

“Like, this bitch is like complying now with me like basically raping her. Like, I’m taking the shit from her.”

“I’m like, yo, I’m really raping this bitch like.”

“Only women who get raped are women who kind of deserve it.”

“... the type of bitches I feel like who get raped are bitches who are not good women who are bitches. And not pleasing the right men, you know what I’m saying.”

In my opinion, Alex Michael Mosby is the last man who should have been released unsecured on a “pinky promise” to appear at trial considering his history, likeliness to reoffend, danger to the community and repeat pattern of missing court. Each time Mosby has been arrested in Athens, he has missed court.

There is a VICTIM here who is being denied JUSTICE. Public safety is being compromised. Every parent with a daughter at UGA or in Athens should be aware and concerned for their safety with individuals such as Alex Mosby simply being able to walk out of jail with no accountability.

The destruction of criminal accountability is real.

Boring, the JQC director stated in his filing that Owens’ complaint and the judge’s responses had been reviewed by the JQC’s Investigative Panel, which “concluded that a formal charge should be filed against Judge Norris.”

Boring stated he filed the charge with the JQC’s Hearing Panel and requested that “proceedings be instituted for the purpose of determining if Judge Norris committed the acts” as alleged by Owens.

If true, according to Boring’s filing, Norris’ alleged conduct would be in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to “uphold the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the Judiciary” and “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities.” 

Norris’ alleged actions also violated another rule of the Judicial Code of Conduct, which requires that judges be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants...and others with whom they deal in their official capacity.”

Norris is required to file with the clerk of the Georgia Supreme Court a verified answer to the charges against him within 30 days after receiving service of the JQC’s formal charge.

When formal charges are filed, a judge has the right to defend against them and be represented by an attorney.

If a violation is found, the JQC can recommend to the Supreme Court that the judge should retire, be censured, suspended or removed from the bench.

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