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Chief Magistrate said he won't run again

Posted: December 30, 2011 - 6:32pm

Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Bobby Christine announced Friday that he will not seek re-election.

The decision, Christine said, is based on information that he’ll likely be activated and deployed through the Georgia Army National Guard in 2012.

“I can’t be on the ballot if I’m on active duty,” Christine said. “As long as I am in the military, this is a potential.”

Christine, a National Guard lieutenant colonel, is a Judge Advocate General officer. He was activated and deployed to Iraq for 14 months in 2003 and 2004.

Christine said though he’s met his obligations to the military and can retire at any time, he won’t.

“I’m not going to take my uniform off while we’re at war,” Christine said. “I’m not going to walk away from the military while we still have troops in harm’s way.”

Though the potential deployment isn’t yet certain, Christine said he doesn’t want to wait any closer to the May qualifying to see if the orders will be confirmed.

“I’ve wrestled with this the last couple of months, thinking about it,” Christine said. “The last thing I want to do is dissuade good folks who might offer (to run) had they known early enough.”

Christine served four years as associate magistrate before being appointed to fill the nearly four remaining years of former Chief Magistrate J. Wade Padgett’s term in February 2009. That term ends Dec. 31, 2012.

“It has been a blessing and such an honor to have been called forth to finish Judge Padgett’s term,” Christine said. “To be a judge for the people of Columbia County in that position, to have been Chief Magistrate, has been a blessing and an honor; one of the highest honors of my life.

“Ultimately, it is not my seat. It is the people’s seat. Knowing this information, I probably need to step aside and let somebody else run.”

If Christine were to qualify in May without opposition, then be mobilized, he’d be forced to pull out of the race due to U.S. Army regulations.

If Christine is activated and/or deployed during a term, there are procedures to keep the court running in his absence. But he simply can’t be activated and on a ballot.

Christine said he might regret the decision not to run if he’s not deployed before the November election. But he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of running for the Magistrate or another office in the future. “What gives me peace is it has been an honor to have served like this,” Christine said. “I’m going to complete this term. Then, you know, I’m a young man.”

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Comments (148)

Riverman1

Summing This Issue Up

Okay, I'm looking at what Lee has said and trying to keep it all in perspective at the same time. Last night I was given a copy of the campaign form for Ben Harbin with Christine's name on it. So Lee is absolutely right that rules were violated. If Lee brought that up to the press, it should have been investigated by them and some type of story written, even if simply to explain and negate the significance of the matter.

I learned with other politicians about campaign ethics rules violations not meaning too much. We had Tim Shelnut telling the FBI he gave tens of thousands to local politicians and nothing was ever done. Sheriff Strength did donate $10,000 to charity later after the administrative court hearing to his credit.

But this is not about campaign ethics violations, it's a judicial matter with the rules of conduct for those on the bench. Apparently, Christine was investigated and that ended the matter legally.

The problem I see is the media never commented because they didn't want to say anything against the popular, and from all evidence, hard working and capable, Christine. From what I was told he took over a court that had been left with a heavy backload requiring many long hours to clear. Still, the media has to be absolutely neutral and report the facts no matter who is involved.

concerned taxpayer

Comments about Bobby

While Mr. Benedict obviously has some personal issues with Mr. Christine, and is certainly entitled to his opinion, I assure you it has nothing to do with Mr. Hasty or his campaign. Jason wants to run a fair, honest, ethical and moral race and would not stoop to bashing or publicaly humiliating anyone. That would be taking the low road and he's assured me that will not
happen. In fact, Jason only wishes the best for Bobby in his future endeavors.

LBenedict

True. I have had these

True. I have had these opinions for some time now, and, I would still have them and post them even if Christine were running unopposed or if I never ever never heard of Jason Hasty, who is a good man and will run an honorable campaign.

Riverman1

Who Else Will Run?

I wonder who will run besides Hasty? Who does the legal establishment want?

Riverman1

Questions About Power of the Internet?

If anyone had any doubts about the power of Internet comments, ask yourself if there will ever again be a judge of any kind who plays politics in his supposedly, apolitical position, and supports political candidates, his friends, in Columbia County? Heh. Think there's not power in these comments from the public? Think again. Think the public won't note campaign contributions to office holders who support the Magnolia Trace developers? Think again...nonsense and all.

VickFan

I have nothing on anyone.

So I have nothing on Mr. Benedict, or Mr. Christine, or anyone else. I do know that I have enough in my on closet that I do not get into the he did/she did. I have learned that eventually, what is done in the dark, will come to light. God is not mocked. My point was that I read a "letter to the editor" from Mr. Benedict about the low income housing mess. Then I read his comments about Mr. Christine. I think it is great that Mr. Benedict stays in the know what is going on in politics. But in the end, if it brings out anything other than joy in your life, it is best to let it be and let God handle it. Again, I have nothing on Mr. Benedict, and wouldn't worry about it if I did. It is not place. I'm not hiding behind a pseudonym... just putting in comments like everyone else.

VickFan

Comment removed

So my comments were removed... but wanted to reiterate that I have nothing on Mr. Benedict or anyone else. I am not trying to be petty or childish. I just think we should all pick our battles.... fighting with the Good Ole Boy system is not worth it in politics or anywhere else for that matter.

Riverman1

Judicial Qualifications Commission

Today, I saw the reply from the Judicial Qualifications Commission to Lee Benedict. The letter said they had told Christine what was proper and then quoted the canons stating a judge must be impartial in politics and not even appear to be supporting a particular candidate. If this wasn't a verbal reprimand to Christine, I don't know what is. They also thanked Lee Benedict for bringing the matter to their attention.

This apparently wasn't a big enough deal for the JQC to remove Christine, but this is clearly what Lee was saying happened. Those of you in your oily suck-up mode talking about smacking anyone in the mouth who said anything about Christine owe Lee an apology. Christine was wrong in this indident.

Riverman1

This is What's Wrong With Col. Cty.

This whole matter shows me what’s wrong with Columbia County politics. We say we encourage newcomers to run for office to help us get over the inside wheeling and dealing, yet we attack anyone who tries. We all know Lee ran against Ben Harbin. ( I voted for Harbin.) I don’t blame him one bit for going after others who improperly supported Harbin such as the two judges. I would do the same thing. Wouldn’t you?

Harbin, with no sense of propriety, decency or discretion, has been shown to be one of the biggest mistakes in Columbia County politics, yet Christine, a judge, supported him? Give me a break when we want to criticize Lee for pointing this out. Since it has now surfaced, Christine owes Lee and the public an apology. All of you attacking Lee do, too.

Lakeside95

LBenedict

Lee.
Do you really believe that the JQC would ignore blatant violations of their rules? Do you believe that Paschal, Rowell and Fetter would give up a chance to bring down a sitting judge, state representative or any other elected official? Do you believe that with all the ‘evidence’ you have that Austin Rhodes or Scott Hudson would ignore the story? Do you believe that Debbie Marshall would hide campaign finance irregularities for any candidate in Columbia County? You must believe all these things- because in order for your conspiracy theories to become fact-these very things would all need to happen.
I keep waiting for you to discover that spending time with your family is more important than continuing the same unwarranted attacks on public officials as well as private citizens. I believe that it is finally time for someone to call you out for what you really are….a paid attack dog.

Riverman1

Lakeside, The JQC Did Not Ignore the Violations

The JQC did counsel Christine what was proper conduct. They also quoted the canons that clearly make what Christine did improper. They also thanked Benedict for the report. But here we go with the "dog" talk and all. Disgusting.

Riverman1

Totally Amazed

What is astounding is the lengths some will go to when supporting incumbent politicians, especially those with any type of authority. I've seen it happen so many times and it's happening again on this thread.

These people get this unctuous, obsequious itch to grovel before the person in power. There can be some clear as day event, such as is the case here, and, yet, the creepy behavior will begin with attacks on the messenger. It’s a dark comedy.

LBenedict

Yeah really. Sarah is just

Yeah really. Sarah is just upset about Dean's conviction. And, "paid attack dog"...gotta luv it. She is the one who hops from campaign to campaign and spouts lies and organizes a ficticious 21-member host committee fundraiser for Scott Dean. By the way, who pays me?

So, did Bobby Christine stand up there behind the podium and endorse Ron Cross or not? If you say that JUDGE Bobby Christine did not, I will have my own personal copy of the tape in the morning and I will play it and play it and play it from the mountaintop.

Was Bobby Christine, a JUDGE, Ben Harbin's campaign committee Chairperson or not? If you say not, I have numerous hard copies of Harbin's CCDRs.

Facts, Sarah. I have them...you, do not, so the establishment folks are sending you out to muddy the water. Hmmn, from Scott Dean to Herman Cain...pattern developing?

LBenedict

"Do you believe that Debbie

"Do you believe that Debbie Marshall would hide campaign finance irregularities for any candidate in Columbia County?" Bwahahahaha!

Let me explain something nice and slow like: Debbie Marshall is with the Columbia County Board of Elections. Got it? Now listen, Ben Harbin is a State Representative and therefore files his CCDRs with the folks in Atlanta, not Evans. Back when, yes, Ben filed in Evans. Bobby Christine became a judge in early 2009, February I think. His name, and Willie Saunders' name has been on many reports as Chairperson and Treasurer respectively...and you KNOW it and are upset that I state fact, and, printed CCDRs prior to doctoring.

Did JUDGE Willie Saunders not give a speech at the CCGOP breakfast on behalf of Ben Harbin? Did you not read Canon 7? Did the JUDGES not know such existed? Oh well, there were plenty of people there who witnessed the speech.

Lakeside95

Yes Lee. I am a paid

Yes Lee. I am a paid campaign consultant/staffer. Who I work for is public record. Unlike you, my allegiances are obvious. And unlike you my loyalty cannot be purchased with vague promises of future elected office.

If these alleged campaign violations are so flagrant- why has no one in the media taken up your flag and done the research? Why haven't we seen a several part feature in the News Times regarding these issues?

Whether or not I believe any of these allegations are true - it doesn't matter. What matters is that you have brought all these alleged violations to the attention of the news media and yet there has been no investigation, no letters of censure, no indictment...nothing.

I welcome the attention to alleged campaign finance malfeasance, possible judicial misconduct and various other infractions. Yet if you are the only person who sees these issues...do they really exist?

Lakeside95

The conspiracy grows...

So the list of complicit officials is growing...we now add Debbie Marshall and the State Ethics Commission to this list? Wow.

So Lee did someone involved in politics in Columbia County kill Kennedy too? Is Jimmy Hoffa's body buried under the Lady Antebellum Amphitheater?

The black helicopters are coming Lee....

LBenedict

"Do you really believe that

"Do you really believe that the JQC would ignore blatant violations of their rules?" Don't know. I do know that Canon 7 prohibits JUDGES from doing certain things, and, I also know that JUDGE Bobby Christine and JUDGE Willie Saunders did some of those certain things and I have proof, and Barry and Austin and Donnie and whomever have just as much access (more actually) as I have. Donnie was covering the story when JUDGE Bobby Christine made his speech. If they want to report that JUDGE Bobby Christine did a no-no, fine. If they do not, fine. It's a little sumn sumn called the First Amendment.

Now let me ask you, do you really believe that a jury would ignore the videotape of officers beating the mess out of a motorist and find the defendants not guilty?

Please, keep posting...it drives up the post count and becomes more visible and therefore more people will click this story's link and read it and its following comments.

Why can't you just admit that JUDGE Bobby Christine made a speech, it was against judicial canon, and, that he engaged in political fundraising, and, that he was Ben Harbin's Chairperson? We all know it is the truth, yet you and yours want to gloss over fact and attack the messenger. I suppose you would when facts are not what you want them to be.

Did JUDGE Bobby Christine not make the speech?
Did JUDGE Bobby Christine not serve as Ben Harbin's Chairperson?
Did JUDGE Bobby Christine not...never mind...it is pointless.

LBenedict

Sarah, I have the proof and

Sarah, I have the proof and sent it to the media. Debbie Marshall has nothing to do with any of this. But there you go on your rant about black helicopters and whatever.

It is what it is. You know what I wrote is the truth and you are the paid attack dog for the good old boys, so you are out here posting nonsense trying to divert attention from JUDGE Bobby Christine's actions to helocopters and John Kennedy and Jimmy Hoffa.

Again, I have the documents and sent them to a whole bunch of people. In the morning, I will have my own copy of the tape. Now, I m done communicating with the Scott Dean, Mike Sleeper, Bobby Christine, Trey Allen (what are they? Young Guns? Gang of Four? ) messenger, because, you have nothing of substance to bring to this discussion. Now if you consider attack dog references and Kennedy Hoffa helicopters, as opposed to JUDGE Bobby Christine's actions, to be of substance, let's just agree to disagree and hope that others realize what you and your crew are trying to do.

Riverman1

Suggestion

I suggest Lakeside95 take the first paragraph of every post and call Lee the lowest scumbag in existence, curse him and threaten to plow his yard under and salt the earth. Then starting in the second paragraph get down to answering the questions.

LBenedict

"And unlike you my loyalty

"And unlike you my loyalty cannot be purchased with vague promises of future elected office." Really? Wow. Who is promising me that I will win an election? What election? What office? Too funny and a desperate attack to divert attention from the facts.

LBenedict

Really RM. She threatened me

Really RM. She threatened me in October of 2010 at an event in Atlanta and said that "This is just a warning shot" blah blah blah. I told people about it.

Lakeside95

Lee: If you have informed

Lee: If you have informed the JQC, if you have informed the State Ethics Commission...then what is taking so long? Where are the sanctions? Where is the letter of condemnation? Where are the official inquiries?

My questions are valid. If there is such a blatant offense, then where is the official record of punishment or even a record of investigation?

... but if the proof is there, if the allegations are true, then why has there been no action?

Again, what I dispute are your insinuations that there is a massive conspiracy afoot in Columbia County.

Riverman1

The Question Is...

Ask Bobby Christine if the JQC counseled him about proper conduct of Judges supporting political candidates? I saw the letter from the JQC to Lee where they said they had talked with Christine, repeated the canon that clearly says a judge can't even appear to support a candidate and thanked Lee for making them aware of the situation. Now, really, what's there to discuss here?

Lakeside95

Yes, what is there to

Yes, what is there to discuss?
Christine is not running. According to Lee, the JQC has counselled Christine about his actions. So why is Lee still bringing this issue to the forefront again? If the issue has been dealt with-why bring it up again?

Riverman1

Probably Because

Well, human nature being what it is and since Lee was a candidate against Ben Harbin, why wouldn't he be ticked?

Riverman1

Should we forget everything about Harbin?

We would all have to have Alzheimer's to forget all the negatives that have come Ben Harbin's way. There's his support of Scott Dean, getting money from the Magnolia Trace developers and being charged with DUI that he found a way to beat. Frankly, to me, this thing about Bobby Christine supporting him is the least of the wrongs, but it is one, nevertheless.

LBenedict

VickFan: You are a classy

VickFan: You are a classy individual and are to be commended for your stance. My view is that when elected officials or those appointed to elected positions or positions of authority engage in certain behavior, they need to be called on it. Granted, professional commissions can cover their own and media people can gloss over certain things to benefit those they like or whatever. But I trust the people to see what is and then make their own decision. Happy New Year to you and yours.

Lakeside95

Riverman

Riverman:
Why do you believe in the justice system when it convicts Dean, when the JQC counsels Christine yet when Harbin's case doesn't have the result you want....you call it beating the system?

Riverman1

Justice System

Sending a phony fax to a police officer has about as much to do with the justice system as Harbin's female lobbyist friend has to do with the Honesty in Government Organization or the American Family Association.

Riverman1

Lakeside95, They Pay You for THIS???

I would expect a paid political consultant to be smart enough not to get Riverman going.

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