Monday, April 16, 2012

Using guns, drugs, and strippers does not necessarily make for biased judging.

Back in 2010, we posted about Jack T. Camp, a senior United States district court judge in Georgia who made the news due to some (mis)adventures with cocaine, guns, and a stripper.  Judge Camp is back in the news.

Judge Camp, who was married, became sexually involved with a stripper at the GoldRush Showbar.  Judge Camp would pay the woman to use cocaine with him and also have sex with him.  Judge Camp also began bringing guns and the stripper with him when he was buying drugs.  Unfortunately for the judge, the stripper was working for the FBI, and the judge was eventually arrested.

Judge Camp is back in the news because, as the Augusta, Georgia Chronicle reports, the Department of Justice has concluded that there was no evidence that mental impairment or racial bias affected any cases he handled while he was  a judge.  The justice department was investigating Judge Camp's decisions because some suggested that Judge Camp had a racial bias against African Americans and because Judge Camp blamed the conduct that got him locked up on a 2000 bicycling accident that that apparently damaged Judge Camp's brain.  According to Judge Camp, the brain damage "led him to use drugs."  Strangely, the Judge claims he didn't use drugs until shortly before he was caught.  The article does not say why it took ten years for Judge Camp to feel the effects of the accident.

23 African-American defendants requested the review of their sentences. According to the investigation's findings, 10 received sentences at the lower end of the sentencing guidelines, eight were near the middle to high end and three more defendants were sentenced below what the range suggested. One other defendant was given life in prison because the law required it based on his prior convictions. The last case, involving a 1993 bank robbery conviction, fell within the guideline range but records didn’t indicate where. In fact, there was some evidence that white defendants got longer sentences than minority defendants (although the sample size was very small, apparently only six white defendants asked for a review of their sentences).

Another interesting tidbit is that Judge Camp apparently presided over a case involving the GoldRush Showbar while he was a patron there.  As a result, the club is apparently arguing on appeal that Judge Camp should have recused himself from the case.  This claim apparently did not sit too well with 11th Circuit Judge James L. Edmondson. The paper reports that Judge Edmondson told the club's lawyers at oral argument, “We have an unusual circumstance and we are very concerned. But we haven’t just canceled out what Judge Camp has done for months and months nor do we see a reason to do so.”

Judge Camp is apparently pretty happy with the result of the investigation.  His statement to the Chronicle said that he thought that the report vindicates his decisions as "fair, impartial, and true to the law."  The judge's statement also says that the investigation "confirms the fact that [Judge Camp's] work as a judge was never affected by drugs.”

The article doesn't mention how long it to took to complete the investigation.  Given that it is coming out around eighteen months after Judge Camp was arrested, it seems fair to conclude that it took longer than the 30 days that Judge Camp actually served in jail as a result his escapades. 

Thanks to Mr. Torvik for bringing the Chronicle's article to my attention.

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