July 26, 2012

Attorney says state investigating Murray judge

Charles Oliver

— Ringgold attorney McCracken Poston says a client of his is cooperating with a state investigation of a Murray County magistrate judge.

Poston said Angela and Joe Garmley had called to meet with him last Thursday.

“Before they could get to my office, I got a call from the Judicial Qualifications Commission. I didn’t  even know what the case was about. But I got a call saying, ‘Hey, I’d like to meet with your client.’ I said this person isn’t a client yet, we are meeting today. I said, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and meet with them, since I don’t want to impede an investigation?’” he said.

Poston said he later found that the investigation involved claims that Murray County Chief Magistrate Bryant Cochran had “made an unwanted advance” to Angela Garmley, his client, when she went to him in April seeking a warrant against someone who had allegedly assaulted her. Poston said Angela Garmley is cooperating with that investigation.

Who filed the complaint?

“I’ve never asked her that directly. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was her husband that did it, since he was very aggressively upset about it. They are estranged, but they are very friendly and supportive of each other,” Poston said.

Officials at the Judicial Qualifications Commission did not immediately return a telephone message to their office on Wednesday.

Poston said he believes Angela Garmley chose him to represent her because he represented longtime Murray County employee Charlene Miles in a sexual harassment lawsuit against the county and former sole commissioner David Ridley. That lawsuit was eventually settled.

In a statement, Cochran said, “This is a politically timed, politically motivated personal attack on my family and I. We are devastated and heartbroken that my opponent’s supporters would stoop to such levels for an election. I am actively seeking re-election and campaigning hard. My campaign has been based on my abilities, accomplishments and achievements over the past eight years. I wish everyone’s campaign could be.”

Reached Wednesday evening and told of Poston’s comments that the investigation involved claims of “an unwanted advance,” Cochran said, “As far as I’m understanding right now, the commission had contacted my attorney (Friday) and said that there was no investigation at this time.”

According to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, Joe Garmley contributed $500 to the campaign of Dwayne Hooper, who is challenging Cochran in the July 31 primary, on June 14.

“Mr. Garmley is a very emotional man. I’m surprised he didn’t give him more,” said Poston. “You can imagine how different people would react to this type of information and shown evidence of it. I think anyone would do something like that as part of their rage.”

Phone numbers for Angela Garmley and Joe Garmley could not be found.