Sunday, March 27, 2011

Travesty of Justice: Judge Amanda Williams, Glynn County, GA


The legal system is set up to protect the American citizenry and governing principles. Sometimes that means criminals are incarcerated. Sometimes it means innocent people are incarcerated, too, because, sadly, we do make mistakes. But our basic value is liberty. We prize liberty so much that we are willing to let 10 guilty go free just to make sure a single innocent person is not deprived of freedom. We do everything we can --- putting all sorts of stumbling blocks in the way of the state's prosecution --- just to make sure innocent people are not unintentionally mistreated.

And we should always do that. Our legal system is about fairness first and foremost. Punishment is always secondary and is never to be given with a heavy hand, lest the very system designed to protect us becomes foreboding. When the public loses confidence in the basic fairness of our legal system, the ideals of liberty are mocked.

I listened tonight to an episode of This American Life on my local NPR station. The piece featured Judge Amanda Williams, the director of the Drug Court in Glynn and Camden Counties in GA. The segment was titled Very Tough Love, but it should have been named The Most Unfair Court in the Nation.

I could type my thoughts on this judge and the tyrannical means by which she runs her court. I could say how grossly unfair she treats the people who come before her. I could even say how I believe she is unfit to serve on the bench. But I won't. (If you want to read what others are saying about this judge, try this link.)

I am asking you to listen to the story. It takes a while, but listen to it. And then I am asking you to do something about it. I am asking you to please send an email to the Office of National Drug Policy asking them to please investigate this judge who is unfit to be on any bench. Also, please send a letter or fax to the GA Judicial Qualifications Commission (they don't accept email, apparently). Here is the contact information and a sample mock up.

Judicial Qualifications Commission
P.O. Box 191
Madison, GA 30650
Phone: (706) 343-5891
Fax: (706) 342-4593

To Whom It May Concern: 

I wanted to bring up a concern that I was recently nade aware of by Ira Glass from This American Life. He gave an in-depth account with strong reporting about a particular Drug Court in Glynn and Camden Counties of Georgia. I am very concerned about the job that the Judge Amanda Williams is doing. The information presented in the news story about the manner in which Judge Amanda Williams is conducting herself is frightening. I live in metro Atlanta so I am not one of her constituents but I feel strongly that something should be done. 





48 comments:

Anonymous said...

I listened to the program and after I looked on the Internet for who was talking about it, and I found your blog.

Unfortunately, your link was broken when I clicked it. I am going to send a letter, but I will also send a letter to the people at the Georgia Accountability Courts.

http://w2.georgiacourts.org/gac/index.php?option=com_qcontacts&view=category&catid=16&Itemid=54

I really hope that NPR broadcast gets tons of people motivated to mail, call, email drug courts, state Representatives and others who can prevent further abuses.
Kudos on mentioning the broadcast in your blog!

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I updated the link and added the snail mail and phone/fax number for the GA Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Thanks again for letting me know about the link & the kind words.

Anonymous said...

It's Judge Amanda WILLIAMS

And the county is GLYNN.


Thanks.

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Thank you, Anonymous. I had it correct in the post but not in the title. That's what I get for typing at 3AM.

Addiction Counselor in GA said...

One thing this story failed to mention is that some of the outplacement programs being utilized by the Courts are unlicensed programs. Bridges of Hope, while a well-meaning "ministry", is not a licensed treatment program in Georgia... and there are many others that operate without State licensure. They operate on the premise that they are a ministry and they are exempt from licensure under "separation of Church and State". But if you consider that St. Joseph's Hospital and the former Georgia Baptist Medical Center were both ministries of the Catholic Church and the Georgia Baptist Convention, respectively, yet they were required to have State licensure and accreditation to operate as hospitals; then why wouldn't a ministry providing drug abuse treatment be required to be licensed to provide those services, as well. If the Drug Court utilized an unlicensed program then they: A) were condoning the operation of the illegal provision of treatment without licensure, or B) not fulfilling their own contract to provide treatment to the Defendant(s) in their Drug Court Program. Drug abuse treatment is a specialized industry that should be provided by competent and trained counselors, not glorified 12 Step sponsors acting as professionals, and certainly should be regulated under the State's rules and regulations for the provision of such services. How could the Court justify sending their treatment participants to such programs?

Anonymous said...

Just saw this and thought I should share:

http://ImpeachJudgeWilliams.com

Anonymous said...

As (bad) luck would have it, I am sending my 18 year old son to a recovery residence In Glynn county tomorrow. This broadcast made my blood run cold. My son is an addict but he does not fit the stereotypical addict mold. This is a sweet natured, good kid who takes care of his 92 year old grandmother, loves his parents and his dog. He went astray in a less than desirable high school setting and we found out he had a problem.

A judge like Amanda Williams can break a kid like this. Apparently she already has. Bridges of hope and other places like it that are unregulated by any supervisory agency are dangerous and should be held accountable by people who are trained professionals in the field of psychology and addiction. I cannot even bear to repeat my conversation with them. The thought of my son ending up there keeps me up at night.

Amanda Williams is NOT a mental health professional. Does she even consider the opinions of any mental health professionals in her courtroom when handing out these horrific sentences?

This woman has a history of unethical behavior and should not only be unseated but should be disbarred. I have lived in the south all of my life and it's people like Amanda Williams that put us lightyears behind the rest of the country. Please, citizens of Glynn County, do something about this woman before another life is ruined.

Anonymous said...

i also heard about the judge on "this american life". i could not believe the way she treats people and how many are terrified of her. why will no one locally grow a spine and stand up to this woman? i'll do all i can to help get rid of this monster...as another comment said, this IS why people think southerners a re stupid. i live in tx. thanks for your blog and info.

Victor said...

Thanks for the great information and clear steps on what to do. I'm sending my letter today and have emailed the Clearing House. I hope action is taken swiftly and those unfairly judged get their right to a fair trial.

Anonymous said...

I also heard the broadcast on NPR and am horrified by the treatment of the girl with the first story. It sounds like judge williams has a vendetta against addicts. Drug court should be a place for helping addicts recover, not for severe punishment that offers no chance for help. As a person who has been in recovery for over three years, i have never heard of drug court judges giving such harsh penalities for those who are following the rules. Thank you so much for offering the information to fax.

ssb-9a said...

Please help us! We have been suffering since this woman took office in 1990! Now that her power-mad corruption has finally reached national attention, we have a chance to finally get rid of her. Don't believe there's real corruption in Brunswick? Our local paper has still yet to print one word about this. Listen to the podcast. Google her name. This doesn't even address her conduct in civil and criminal court! No matter where you are, write and express your outrage!! http://impeachjudgewilliams.com/what-you-can-do/

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2011-03-26/story/glynn-county-drug-court-focus-american-life-episode-airing-today#comment-386706#ixzz1I1829zjT

Anonymous said...

lady justice, take her down, take her down.

Melissa said...

Thank you so much for posting this blog. I too googled Judge Williams after listening to This American Life and wanted to do something about this injustice and found your blog. I will send a letter.

pavlov said...

Sounds like a typical Southern hammer-headed tyrant behind the bench. Judge Williams confirms every stereotype I have of the Southern justice system. She is clearly an arrogant buffoon and needs to be given some of her own medicine: debenched, disbarred, convicted, and given several years in solitary. Let's see what she thinks about her methods after that.

Anonymous said...

What I find baffling is how she claims that the problems with her husband grant her a certain empathy with the people who come through her program. I doubt she threw her husband in isolation and then left him there to rot, ignoring his medical needs. She's obviously lost sight of her purpose.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a letter to the Georgia fitness board and cc'd the US DOJ since I have doubts about this being felt with at the state level and it seems constitutional rights are being violated. If every letter has "cc: us DOJ" at the bottom it will only increase the pressure at the state level.

Sea-Monkey said...

I applaud your blog! I'm in Australia, and I heard it a couple of days ago. I was floored. You're the land of the free! Fight for it my dear American friends. Don't let this one slip through to the keeper.

Love love,

Australia

Anonymous said...

If you write the Judicial Qualifications Commission make sure you use the complaint form.
http://www.gajqc.com/complaint.cfm You need to be as specific as possible. A general complaint is not going to merit an investigation.

Destiny said...

Thank you so much for providing links and a letter format to send. I'll be mailing mine today.

Anonymous said...

I work in the judicial system in the State of California. I manage several drug courts and I found the "This American Life" drug court story appalling.

Judge Amanda William's abuse of judicial power which tramples on the Constitutional Rights of the litigants that appear before her are egregious and need to be further investigated.

I have sent letters numerous letters to all the major media outlets, the DOJ, the Georgia Courts, and Administration. I know we can help this story going viral if we continue our pursuit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, everybody send a letter to the JQC. Rumor has it they are already investigating and need more ammunition and complaints. Formal or informal all helps.

Ian said...

I am a Glynn County resident with a kid that went through Judge Williams Drug Court. Our child has not had any problems and has not relapsed. This IS a good program that has kept our child out of jail and allowed a second chance. This NPR reporter does not know any thing about our community or Judge Williams. Nor does the "reporter" understand our Drug Court program. Please keep your sensationalist reporting out of our home-town.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

For what its worth, I was raised and spent most of my life in Glynn County. SSI Elementary, Glynn Middle, and Glynn Academy. I remember when Emeline & Hessie's was the place to eat. You got your groceries at Food Lion or IGA, and there were only a few condos off Ocean Blvd. More recently, I remember when the schools were put on SACS probation because School Board members (at the time) would rather play politics and sue each other than read the budget. Over those years, I worked in some of the restaurants, too, and I've known a few folks who came under the boot of drug court.

Thank God someone is finally bringing the practices of this "court" into the light of day. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, after all.

One individual I know was caught on vacation with a small amount of controlled substance (marijuana) in his car during a speeding ticket stop. He was advised to do drug court. Any reasonable court would have given him probation, or at least exported the case to his home state.

He had to move to Glynn County from his home in a different part of the country, away from his fiance and other life for more than two years to finish with this program. I remember it well because I helped host his going away dinner once he had finished with the program "clean."

But, of course, who would believe such a thing could happen? He was just one of those people who brought the tourists their food, after all.

Maybe this court does help some folks who get into the program. But for a lot of people I know, this thing has caught them up in an unnecessary, draconian, and expensive system for years. The ONLY reason it stays in place is because people fear reprisals if they speak out.

Anonymous said...

Looks like her son was just appointed to a Judge position as well...

http://www.thebrunswicknews.com/story/printer/MUNICIPAL-031011-HR-KK

ssb-9a said...

Brunswick News finally printed something on this yesterday,but as usual small town corruption had to put its spin on things. She received death threats, likely from her own camp to discredit those trying to oust her. The article comes out six days after the national radio broadcast, six days not a word, then this, corruption in Brunswick? You decide. The “news” article: http://www.impeachjudgewilliams.com/bwknews-3-31-2011.pdf

eomrat said...

I kept waiting for the part of the story where they identified the victims of this court who did not commit crimes. I must have missed it. Here is a suggestion for all criminals. If you do not want to deal with judges, don't commit crimes.

SeekerFreaKC said...

I, too, found your blog after listening to this TAL episode (via podcast). Thanks for the post on this story.

There was a lot to this story, but first, I just wanted to state how CREEPY the ruling was that forced the one young woman to undergo any & all treatment her physician chose to prescribe. How awful!

I will be writing to the officials (thanks to everyone who listed contact info), & hope many of you take the time to do the same. I would like to see how Judge Amanda Williams manages when she's held accountable for her own actions.

The people of Glynn County need some outside help on this one. Knowing that others are watching may be all they need to not feel so vulnerable to any potential threats from this woman.

ssb-9a said...

Yeah, don't commit crimes like getting a divorce, dissolving a business partnership,adjusting child support,and hundreds of other civil cases Judge Williams has touched with her brand of law.emorat, sorry about your head injury.

eomrat said...

Ahh ssb, you did not read (or listen to) the original story.

Geoff Knauth said...

@eomrat: The point of the story was not that the people who appeared before Judge Amanda Williams were entirely innocent (though some were), the point is that her penchant for harsh punishment far exceeds the norms for a free and democratic society, and is ultimately less effective than other approaches. There should be regular oversight and right of appeal.

eomrat said...

@Geoff - Excellent response. (Thank you for not mentioning my head injury)I stick to my point that if you want to avoid getting caught up in the criminal justice system the most sensible thing is to not commit crimes.I also sense a bit of hysteria in some of the responses above and a great deal of absolutely uninformed squawking about effective drug treatment etc etc. I have never read one single research paper that ever demonstrated ANY drug treatment program to be effective at all, nor have I ever met a single person who benefited, in any way,from any of these quack programs. When I say that I have read no papers, I mean no papers that were not written by soulless parasites who had a vested financial interest in duping us. If people really cared about drug users and really wanted to dis-empower this hag they would look to their idiot legislators for a redress of our demonstratively stupid and counterproductive drug laws. This Judge would be mostly de-fanged if we, as a society, quit allowing the police and prosecutors to feed an endless stream of harmless kids into the life destroying machine that our drug laws have created. Police and prosecutors who, almost to a man, use alcohol on the very same days that they blithely and/or maliciously damn kids to this system.

Bottom line - Change the drug laws. Stop this barbarism.


NORMAL

eomrat said...

@Addiction Counselor in Ga - Interesting attack on AA. I am guessing that you receive financial compensation for counseling so-called drug addicts??? Is your beef with AA that the proven effectiveness of the program demonstrates the parasitic nature of the drug treatment mills you are a perpetrator of , or is it that every addict helped by AA or NA is one less potential cash cow for your "specialised [i]industry[/i]".

Anonymous said...

I am mortified by the behavior of this ignorant woman. I cannot believe this is allowed to happen in the United States of America. My prayers go out to the victims of this woman's pathology.

ssb-9a said...

The movement to impeach Judge Amanda Williams was going on long before the radio broadcast. She has been running her court in an out-of-control manner since the ’90s. There are many people who have witnessed her brand of law. It’s not about drug court, it’s not about being a victim, it’s not about not taking responsibility for your own actions, it’s not about some Yankee putting down southerners, these are all totally lame, illogical, excuses for a real problem that needs to be addressed. Judge Amanda Williams steps outside the law, and systematically does things wrong, on a regular basis, outside of her rights and jurisdiction as a judge, and tramples the rights of people before her court, be it drug, civil, or criminal. She needs to be disbarred, charged and incarcerated. I would personally be happy if she just stepped down. However, that’s not her style, just like the 4 million taxpayer dollars spent in the jail fiasco, and the wild taxpayer money being blown in her mismanagement of drug court, there is no doubt she will fight to the bitter end to spend as much taxpayer dollars as possible to be removed. But it’s still worth every penny.

Anonymous said...

Many judges "step outside the law" and live their live exempt from punitive actions. It takes other judges to impose punitive sanctions and, like most doctors, they are reluctant to judge their own. This kind of thing is common all over the United States. Ira Glass (from NPR) did a fine job and Judge Williams had an opportunity to justify her actions but, like most people with more power than common-sense, she ran an hid behind the bench. Drug use and misuse of power are serious problems that erode and eventually will destroy our culture. They are both addictions.

This is just one example of why I think the greatest country on earth is broken and no one seems to have a clue how to fix it.

Addiction Counselor in GA said...

@ eomrat What attack on AA? My attack was on "programs" that represent themselves as treatment when they are not licensed to provide treatment and have no professionally trained staff to conduct evidence based treatment services... picking vegetables and reading the Big Book is not treatment, yet programs like these represent themselves to the Courts as treatment. Counselors who meet the qualifications for certification and/or licensure work hard for their credentials, and deserve to be paid for the work that the do. My clients go to AA and NA. I am recovering myself for almost 25 years, so I do not knock the 12 Step fellowships... and I can guarantee you that most treatment centers are not "cash cows"... I make less than an elementary school teacher, who are just as sorely under paid for dealing with your brats, as I am for dealing with them when they are older brats... If you would raise your children in a functional family, I would be out of a job! I do not have a beef with AA, but it sure sounds like you have a beef with treatment... Wake up and smell the crap you are shoveling...

Anonymous said...

All you people do is critize Drug court and the people that did not make it through the program. What about people like me that graduated and are actually doing something with there life. i HAD MY PROBLEMS IN THE PROGRAM BUT MOST OF IT WAS MY FAULT.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I didn't know if you had been able to keep up with the story, but Williams is suing Ira Glass and This American Life for libel, and appears to be doing it badly.

The local papers aren't covering this aspect of the story. But since you are a blogger who mentioned the story, you may be interested to know that the rambling letter from Williams' lawyer describes the "firestorm in the blogosphere," (PDF) as one result of Glass' libelous intent.

Anonymous said...

I had an experience with Judge Williams and her drug court a decade ago.. I was presented with a trumped up felony charge and placed in jail. Bond was refused for a length of time totally more than 45 days. All during this time that I was incarcerated, I was continually offered the chance to plead guilty and join her drug court. I refused to plead guilty as I was not. I might add also, that I had then and still have a lily white criminal record. Nothing worse than a traffic ticket (speeding) and that had been years earlier. So to bring the story to a close, she finally gave up on me joining her drug court, set me a bond and I was out. The state dropped all the charges a few months later. Go figure. This judge far outreached any reasonablilty, violated my rights as she has many others. She should be removed, and likely criminally prosecuted. I will not use my name because that whole ordeal demonstrated to me how corrupt that system is, and once you get caught up in it, there is no easy or financially reasonable way out. Her fingers of power reach far and I do not want her to even remember my name.

SeekerFreaKC said...

TO: @Anonymous from 11/27/11 - 11:36am & any other interested parties:

Finally! Check out this article by Bill Rankin in 11/16's AJC (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution):

Judge relinquishes cases amid ethics probe

Hopefully, the this Justice-train will keep a-rollin'!

SeekerFreaKC said...

Judge Amanda Williams is being charged will twelve (12) counts of misconduct:

NOTICE OF FORMAL PROCEEDINGS

Anonymous said...

I hate to sound vindictive and hateful. But, I trully hope this justice train rolls on and they burn her at the stake. I personally have experienced the tyranny of her courtroom, seen others experience it and there was nothing, nothing anyone could do. Of course when I retained a favorite lawyer, things changed and moved fast in my favor. What a criminal she is. I again will say, I hope they burn her at the stake. She has made her bed. Lie in it bitch.

Anonymous said...

All too bad. She retires, gets retirement and all is forgiven. Crap..... She should be jailed. I hope Ga will follow Alabama in that the judicial review board does not lose power once the accused judge retires. Alabama has a supreme court case in now to let that board continue to go after a now retired Houston county and Montgomery county judge. In both cases they retired days before the charges were brought. The board is trying to get them anyway. And I praise their efforts.

ssb-9a said...

Jan. 3rd., our first day in Brunswick without Amanda Williams being a judge. Thanks to everyone who got involved, it's surely gonna be a happy 2012 now, p.s. Amanda, see you in civil court real soon.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the Ira Glass broadcast just now. I live in Brunswick and am familiar with the drug problems here. Cocaine is a tragic problem, and the story illustrates how young people's lives get derailed.

The young woman in question chose coke over her life, her family, and society. She chose crime over honesty. And it was not as if the Judge just tossed her in jail on a first offense. Rather, she was caught again and again, over time.

Granted, the judge went too far. I think she just snapped, frankly, seeing the same tired faces in court, each time promising "I'm getting clean, for sure!" and each time coming back to court with another drug conviction or a failed drug test. It is very sad.

The girl profiled in the story sounds like a total airhead. It was hard for me to feel "sorry" for her, when it is folks like here that are taking the copper out of my air conditioner, or breaking into my car every night. This is an epidemic in Brunswick.

While the judge abused power, it is hardly at a level of say, torture at Gitmo. No innocent people were being railroaded or lynched. But a lot of drug abusers were being called out for their malfeasance.

People say, "Well, you might thing differently if it happened to you!"

No, because I don't do drugs. Frankly, Brunswick would be better off if we took all these drug users about 100 miles offshore and let them swim back. No one would miss them, trust me.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with you about the drug problems in Glynn County and the fact that these people made there choices... But, you do not know what you are talking about when it comes to that judge and her tainted drug court. I personally know of cases where first time defendants were jailed without bond for months with the promise of 'if you plead guilty and join drug court we will let you out of jail'. In each of these cases that I am familar with, after a couple of months in jail with no bond set, bond would finally be set, the accused would bond out and be subject to random testing and other inconvenient and unfair demands for more months. The final end in both of these cases was that the state dropped the charges for lack, or no evidence. But yet, that citizen was subjected to a couple of months in jail and legal expense. It is a shame that Williams cannot be criminally prosecuted. I hope that there are some that will successfully go after her in civil court and take everything that bitch has and will every get.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with you about the drug problems in Glynn County and the fact that these people made there choices... But, you do not know what you are talking about when it comes to that judge and her tainted drug court. I personally know of cases where first time defendants were jailed without bond for months with the promise of 'if you plead guilty and join drug court we will let you out of jail'. In each of these cases that I am familar with, after a couple of months in jail with no bond set, bond would finally be set, the accused would bond out and be subject to random testing and other inconvenient and unfair demands for more months. The final end in both of these cases was that the state dropped the charges for lack, or no evidence. But yet, that citizen was subjected to a couple of months in jail and legal expense. It is a shame that Williams cannot be criminally prosecuted. I hope that there are some that will successfully go after her in civil court and take everything that bitch has and will every get.

Anonymous said...

To the person that said all drug addicts should be dropped of in the ocean to drown (not a quote but the gist of it): the courts, prisons, and jails dehumanize people so that they can act in arbitrary and capricious ways without caring. People say, "don't go to jail" or "don't get arrested". Firstly, innocent people get arrested. Even if you argue that number is small, people are still human beings when they are arrested and incarcerated. It makes me sick to hear such comments as they show a total lack of compassion for God's children. There are consequences to actions, but they should be both to protect society and the individual. Drug addicts are people and Amanda Williams treated them inhumanely. People that supported that monster, including all those that make money from Drug Court (unlicensed counselors) should be ashamed of themselves for profiting on the pain of others. A pox on all their houses.