On January 6, 2023, an Answer to Formal Charges was filed by Hon. Robert Reeves, Chief Judge of the Middle Judicial Circuit Superior Court in the state of Georgia, in response to the complaint filed by the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) charging respondent with 58 counts of misconduct.

The filing is entitled “Answer to Formal Charges” with complaint numbers 2022-075 and 2022-456.

On  November 16, 2022, Charles Boring, Director of the JQC, filed a complaint against Judge Reeves alleging that the latter consistently made derogatory remarks in the courtroom against members and non-members of the bar, committed sexual harassment, and inappropriately used his title as a judge.

The allegations include violations of the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct Rules 1.1, 1.2(A) and (B), 1.3, 2.3(B), 2.4, 2.8, 2.9(A), 3.1(C), and  3.7(A)(3).

The judicial canons can be found here.

Director Boring requests that the Court impose upon Judge Reeves the necessary disciplinary action for violations of the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct.

On January 3, 2023, Judge Reeves was granted an extension to file his answer in a document signed by Judge Robert Burney, Presiding Officer of the JQC Hearing Panel. Director Boring consented to the request stating that there was a necessity to do so. The filing is entitled ‘Extension of Time to Answer’, Supreme Court docket S23Z0337.

A copy of the document can be found here.

Judge Reeves denied much of the allegations while likewise denying some of the material allegations therein.

The filing states:

‘Judge Reeves does not recall the exact reason why the courtroom audience had been instructed to remain seated. Judge Reeves stated that this individual had already attempted to leave the courtroom once and was personally instructed to remain seated. Judge Reeves cannot recall using the word “retarded” but admits the portion of the third sentence in Paragraph 3 of the Formal Charges that he instructed the individual to remain seated in.’

The filing continues:

‘Judge Reeves does not deny calling J.C. “Miss America” as alleged in Paragraph 11 of the Formal Charges. She often enters the courtroom and does what is known as “the pageant wave,” prompting the comment. Judge Reeves further responds that he has known J.C. and her family for years and greets her fondly, with the two of them often engaging in friendly banter.’

The filing additionally states:

‘Judge Reeves does not recall the time period of the incident but admits that he made comments and physical motions to the effect as alleged. He denies squeezing B.P.’s shoulder. He further responds that his comments were made in a joking manner to a colleague he had known for years and, based on comments he had heard B.P. make, fully believed she would take his comments to be a joke, as intended. Further, B.P. has told Judge Reeves and others that she knows it was intended as a joke and was upset only because the comment was made in the presence of a member of her staff.’

The filing further states:

‘Judge Reeves prays that all matters alleged in Complaints 2022-075 and 2022-456 be dismissed, that all costs be assessed against the Judicial Qualifications Commission; and that Judge Reeves receive such other and further relief to which he may be entitled.’

In 2007, Judge Reeves was appointed to the Middle Judicial Circuit bench, which includes the counties of Candler, Emanuel, Jefferson, Toombs, and Washington. He was appointed the circuit’s chief judge in 2020, following Judge Kathy Palmer’s retirement.

A copy of the filing can be found here.