Judge Kristina Cook Connelly Graham Has Been Practicing Law Without A License Since 2005
May 24, 2010
According to the Fulton County Daily Reporter, Chattooga County Superior Court Judge Kristina Cook Connelly Graham, who was Publicly Reprimanded on May 11, 2010 for violating the of the Judicial Canons of Ethics, has hit another snag in her woes as a Bench Warmer.
According to the Fulton Daily Report ( www.dailyreportonline.com) :
“A Superior Court judge publicly reprimanded by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission last week for berating law enforcement agents violated rules of the State Bar of Georgia for five years by maintaining an inactive membership that made her ineligible to practice law, State Bar officials said.”
“From 2005 until Thursday morning, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Kristina Cook Connelly Graham was an inactive member of the State Bar.”
“Graham’s membership status prompted an executive meeting of bar staff late Wednesday after the judge learned the Daily Report had inquired about it and called the State Bar to try to restore her active membership status retroactively.”
“Cliff Brashier, the bar’s executive director, told the Daily Report that sitting judges in Georgia must maintain active membership. Current annual dues for active membership are $336, while inactive dues are $118.”
“The bar sends annual notices to its members that include a bill for dues and checkboxes that note whether a member is active or inactive.”
“Those who maintain inactive standing are “neither engaged in the practice of law nor holding themselves out as practicing attorneys nor occupying any public or private position in which they may be called upon to give legal advice or counsel or to examine the law or to pass upon the legal effect of any act, document, or law,” according to State Bar Rule 1-202(a)”.
“Active members, according to the rule, “shall be all other lawyers,including judges.”
“Attorneys who are inactive members of the State Bar but practice law are in violation of bar ethics rules banning the unauthorized practice of law,said the State Bar senior assistant general counsel Jonathan Hewett.”
“State Bar rules, Brashier continued, “put in the same category a judge who is interpreting a law and a lawyer who is doing the same thing but representing a client, too. I would guess that if they are in inactive status, they should not practice law.”
“Brashier said that federal judges are exempt from being active members,and judges who are not required by state statute to hold a law degree do not have to be members of the bar.”
Also, according to Fulton Daily Report’s article by R. Robin McDonald;
“Brashier said a state statute makes the unauthorized practice of law a misdemeanor. Under bar ethics rules, the penalty for engaging in the unauthorized practice can be disbarment.”
“But Robert McCormick, deputy general counsel of the State Bar, said, “We do not enforce that. We are not an agency that enforces state laws.” Enforcement, he said, would fall to local solicitors.”
Chattooga County, however, is currently without an official State Court Solicitor, since January 14, 2010, when former State Court Solicitor Tim Perry resigned in order to run for State Court Judge against the Honorable Sam Finster. Governor Sonny Perdue has appointed Summerville attorney Samford (Buddy) Hill to the position of Chattooga County Solicitor, but Mr. Hill will not be sworn in until Thursday 27, 2010.
We have left word with Mr. Hill to contact us, so that we can learn if he intends to pursue criminal misdemeanor charges against Judge Graham.
RomeNewsByWatson has also been in touch with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Inspector General’s Office to learn if there are any implications in this revelation which would constitute nullification of Judge Graham’s election, or if it would constitute fraud on the part of Judge Graham. We have been promised a formal statement as soon as they are able to evaluate the situation.
Those with paid membership can access the full story at www.dailyreportonline.com ”.