On Thursday, February 16, 2023, the Judicial Qualifications Commission of the State of Georgia dismissed the formal charges against Chief Judge Manzie T. Broxton, I of the Magistrate Court of Washington County following the judge’s death.

The case is styled “In re: Inquiry concerning Judge Manzie T. Broxton I,” case #S22Z0590.

The formal charges cited Rules 1.1, 1.2(A), 2.2, 2.4(A), 2.5(A), 2.6(A), 2.9(A), 2.11(A), and 3.11(B) of the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct, which state:

Judges shall respect and comply with the law.

Judges shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary.

Judges shall dispose of all judicial matters fairly, promptly, and efficiently.

Judges shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence in it. Judges shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or intimidation, or fear of criticism.

Judges shall perform judicial and administrative duties competently, diligently, and without bias or prejudice.

Judges shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or the person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law.

Judges shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law. Judges shall not initiate, permit, or consider other communications made to them outside the presence of the parties, or their lawyers, concerning a pending proceeding or impending matter…

Judges shall disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned, or in which the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party….

On January 21, 2022, the Director filed formal charges concerning alleging thirty counts of misconduct against Broxton in 2021.

Among the allegations in the formal charges include:

Improper detention of a citizen;

Improper Attempts to Mediate Disputes and Discourage Parties from Filing Lawsuits in the Magistrate Court of Washington County;

Issuing Ex Parte Directives and Verbal Orders on an Eviction Matter;

Improper Use of Church Members to Perform Critical Court Tasks;

Failure to Follow Applicable Law and Decide Issues Based on Proper Legal Bases;

Using Criminal Proceedings and the Threat of Incarceration to Force Payment to Another Party in a Potential Civil Matter Not Before the Court; and

Issuing Felony Arrest Warrants Based Upon an Unsworn Citizen Complaint and Without Holding a Pre-Warrant Application Hearing.

The filing states:

“Around 4:00 PM on the afternoon of Friday, July 30, 2021, Judge Broxton called Sgt. Boomershine and told him that he wanted to rescind the aggravated stalking warrant because he decided the warrant was inappropriate. Judge Broxton directed Sgt. Boomershine to come to his office. When Sgt. Boomershine arrived,
Judge Broxton instructed Sgt. Boomershine to postdate the dismissal of the warrant to be effectuated on Monday, August 2, 2021.

Sgt. Boomershine asked Judge Broxton why he wanted to postdate the dismissal of the warrant, as the female citizen was in custody. Judge Broxton responded that although he was rescinding the warrant, he intended to keep the female citizen in jail over the weekend to “teach her a lesson.” Sgt. Boomershine complied with Judge Broxton’s directive to improperly postdate the warrant. The woman was not released from jail until the following Monday, August 2, 2021, after serving three additional days in custody.”

The filing continues:

“Judge Broxton regularly advised litigants who appeared at the court not to file their claims or lawsuits so that they could resolve their disputes outside of the court process and avoid paying filing fees. Judge Broxton would instead invite litigants back to his office and would counsel them in an attempt to resolve the issue. Judge Broxton attempted to resolve matters outside of the court process, often ex parte. In these situations, no lawsuit was ever filed, no court filing fee was paid, and no written order was entered. Judge Broxton admitted this conduct to JQC Chief Investigator John Gosart (Investigator Gosart) and JQC Investigative Counsel Jeff Davis (“Investigative Counsel Davis) on August 24, 2021.”

The filing further alleges:

“Judge Broxton stated to court personnel that he would follow the law “except when the Lord speaks to [him] and tells [him] to do something else, then [he] might go outside the law.”

The filing additionally notes:

“After law enforcement determined that there was no probable cause that a crime had been committed and refused to seek arrest warrants, the citizen then visited Judge Broxton and told Judge Broxton about the situation, ex parte. After discussing the facts with the citizen, Judge Broxton issued a felony armed robbery
arrest warrants for two individuals, based upon the unsworn statement of the private citizen and without a hearing to determine probable cause.”

After almost a year since the formal charges have been filed, the Director sought the dismissal of the formal charges for the reason that he had been informed that Judge Broxton passed away on January 1, 2023.

Accordingly, the Court considered the formal charges moot, thereby dismissing the same.

The disposition reads:

“Pursuant to its authority under Judicial Qualifications Commission Rule 24(D), the hearing panel hereby DISMISSES the formal charges in this matter and directs the Clerk of the Supreme Court to close the docket in this matter.”

Judge Broxton’s former courtroom is located at the Washington County Courthouse at 132 West Haynes St., Sandersville, Georgia 31082.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.