The scales of justice are weighted by who knows you

October 5, 2012 

It’s been a tough time for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Jerry Modena and his command staff have been rightfully hounded for information concerning the non-arrest of Superior Court judge Howard Simms. Simms registered a 0.083 during traffic operation “Rolling Thunder.” Instead of arrest, Simms was allowed to drive his truck home escorted by a deputy. There are all sorts of wrongs here.

The wrongs start with Simms. This is his second such DUI incident. The first, that we know about, occurred in 2010 when a Macon police officer smelled alcohol emanating from his vehicle after a traffic stop. He got off then, too. Simms has now admitted to alcohol addiction and has entered treatment.

The second set of wrongs belong to Capt. Alden Washington and Sgt. Bruce Jordan. The fact that procedure wasn’t followed is a gross understatement. Allowing Simms to drive himself home could have turned deadly, but that he could drive himself at all is an indication of his level of addiction.

Then there is the issue of fairness. Twenty-eight drivers were charged with DUI during the traffic operation over two days. How many were allowed to be on their way without a trip to the LEC? It’s difficult to believe that someone didn’t make a call to either Sheriff Modena or Chief Deputy and future Sheriff David Davis. Both said they were not contacted. That could indicate another problem, too.

Modena seemed a little testy during his news conference Thursday. His ire was directed at the media rather than at his own department. The egg wouldn’t be rotting at his doorstep if his deputies had simply followed procedure. Walking away from the press conference without answering questions further erodes public confidence.

This affair isn’t over with the reprimands given to the deputies. Simms’ fate may be decided by the Judicial Qualifications Commission. It’s doubtful it would strip him of his judge’s robes, but whether he stays on the bench should be Simms’ decision to make -- and he should do the right thing long before the JQC issues its opinion. He should resign immediately and concentrate on his health and his family to regain their trust. Simms will always remind citizens of the old saying: It’s who you know that counts.

This incident reinforces the notion that Lady Justice is far from blind. For a select few, she sees quite well.

-- The Editorial Board

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