Robin McDonald of the Fulton Daily Report notes in a story today that Murray County Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran resigned his post as Chief Magistrate Judge. His resignation letter departs from they typical fare of this genre — quivery sharky handwritten script, tendered to Richard Hyde. He doubled the average sentence length to two whole sentences. And the content is different, too.
Judge Cochran made clear that his resignation was not related to allegations that he used the power and prestige of the office of Magistrate Judge to pick up girls (Indeed, one would think that being a county magistrate judge would be an impediment to wooing. You’d want to say vaguely that you are a “judge” or more vaguely “I work at the courthouse.”).
He also noted that the resignation was related solely to the fact that he handed out signed blank warrants to law enforcement. In a written statement that his lawyer forwarded to the Daily Report, Cochran said, “I accept full responsibility for the warrants that were pre-signed.”
It appears that Judge Cochran’s practice was only a slight departure from the way things typically work in the warrant-granting process statewide. You’re suppose to rubber stamp the warrant after the cop fills it out, not before. Judge Cochran’s departure saddens me more than any of the 8,000 other judicial resingations in the last 3 years because his practice was a rare honest statement about how the role of magistrate works. This is the very practice of judicial efficiency and economy that we heard so much about in law school.
Indeed, I was hopeful that the original story was true that his staff actually controlled the issuance of the blank warrants. I would think that a law enforcement agent would actually have work to get a warrant from a clerk.