Appointing mother of Randall's grandchild to magistrate post inappropriate, agency says

awomack@macon.comFebruary 17, 2014 

A nominee for a Bibb County Magistrate Court judgeship was rejected after the state’s judicial watchdog agency said it would be inappropriate for Chief Magistrate William C. “Billy” Randall to appoint his grandchild’s mother to the job.

After Randall’s nomination, the Superior Court judges in the Macon Judicial Circuit requested an opinion from the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. The judges notified Randall recently that they wouldn’t approve his nomination based on the commission’s opinion in the case, Randall said Monday.

Although Randall declined to name his nominee, he said the woman is the mother of a child that his son fathered.

The commission cited two judicial canons in its opinion, he said. One of them instructs judges to “avoid nepotism and favoritism.” The other says judges shouldn’t allow their “family, social, political or other relationships” to influence their judicial conduct or judgment.

Randall said he “totally disagrees” that the appointment would be inappropriate, saying his grandchild was born “out of wedlock” and that his nominee, therefore, is ”not family.”

“This lady would have been a good judge,” Randall said.

The circuit’s Superior Court judges must approve any appointment for a vacant Magistrate Court judgeship.

Randall’s nominee is the second person struck down in three years for such an opening.

In 2011, Randall nominated former Magistrate Selinda D. Handsford for a vacancy, but the Superior Court judges revoked their initial approval after receiving additional information.

Handsford was indicted in 2004 after allegations surfaced that she had accepted “love offerings” to perform weddings at the courthouse during work hours. The criminal case against her ultimately was dropped. She resigned and paid restitution.

County commissioners froze the vacant judgeship and it hasn’t been refilled.

The current vacancy was created by the January death of Cedric Leslie, an associate magistrate since 2005.

Randall said he’s talking with another possible nominee, another woman who he says has no connection with him or his office.

He also has received calls and letters from people interested in the job.

Until a new judge is appointed, the court will be operating with two magistrates and an associate magistrate in addition to Randall.

Randall said the court’s backlog continues to grow each day.

“It’s going to be really tough,” he said, “but we will persevere.”

Randall, who has been chief judge of Bibb County’s Civil and Magistrate courts since 1999, said he plans to run for re-election later this year.

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