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December 30, 2012

2012: Year in review

The world did not end in 2012, as some predicted, but there were numerous people for whom the year represented lives forever changed.

The Daily Citizen news staff compiled a list of some of the top local stories of the year.

Shakeup in

Murray County

Murray County Chief Magistrate Bryant Cochran won re-election during the summer but resigned a short time later after he admitted to pre-signing — though not distributing — a handful of warrants. He was also under investigation for allegedly making sexual propositions to several women on the job. He has denied the allegations.

One of the women, through her attorney, accused Cochran of having the Murray County Sheriff’s Office participate in a scheme to plant drugs on her vehicle. The woman was arrested, but the district attorney said within a few days he would not press charges.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was brought in to investigate, and the U.S. Department of Justice also became involved. Those investigations are ongoing, and several people have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Atlanta. Sheriff Howard Ensley fired two officers, saying they lied during the investigation, but he declined to go into detail.

Ensley, who has been in office for 24 years, was defeated during the November election by Gary Langford, a retired law enforcement officer.

Earlier in the year, Brittany Pittman defeated first-term incumbent Greg Hogan for sole commissioner. Hogan, a former mayor of Eton, had won a special election July 19 of last year to replace former sole commissioner David Ridley, who resigned. Pittman also sought the office then.

Late in the year, Murray native Gale Buckner, who has held numerous high-profile positions with state government, returned to the county to serve as chief magistrate judge after being appointed by the four Superior Court judges of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit.

Pittman, for one, was pleased.

“I think it (Buckner taking office) will restore a lot of the professionalism that needs to be in Murray County,” Pittman said. “I’m looking forward to working with her to make Murray County a better community.”

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