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Chief Magistrate said he won't run again

Posted: December 30, 2011 - 5:32pm

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)


Barry, what last one? And if

Barry, what last one? And if I may, I mentioned one complaint, yet more than one is being attributed to me. So, have you been speaking with Christine about this? I suspect that you have because I discussed a single complaint and you speak of multiple. The only way one can ascertain if there are/were multiple complaints is to speak with the JQC or Bobby Christine. Just wondering. I understand that you may not be "permitted" (or whatever the term is) to respond given that confidentiality/anonymity applies to your sources. What I think is happening is that Christine is asking Barry to defend him via this forum. That's just what I think, and although Barry posts on these forums, he is not compelled to reveal his sources, which, can be a hindrance at times.


Let's Cut to the Chase Again

Christine supported Harbin and that sucks in the mind of most of the public because Harbin has been proven to be a worthless piece of work.

We also know who the old lady is in this discussion. She was commenting above and is paid to make comments. I do this for fun.

Barry Paschal

Yes, I spoke to Bobby

He says there are four complaints filed against him by Lee. Did Lee also file complaints against Willie Saunders? Or against Carlisle Overstreet, whose name appeared in an endorsement for Ron Cross, as did David Roper's before he asked that it be removed? That's three other judges - did you file a complaint against them too, Lee?

("Most," Riverman? Think so?)

ETA: No one asked me to post anything.


How on God's Green Earth Can a Local Paper Not...

The CCNT can hold forth debates on naming about every school and field in the county, yet we can't get a story about what transpired with Lee, the JQC and Christine?

Barry Paschal

For the last time

Riverman, what you fail to get - for whatever reason - is that no one is going to elevate politically motivated gripes to the level of news. The JQC dispatched the complaints; the only reason you've heard about them at all is because Lee tried to selectively share the information in an attempt to feed an unfavorable impression of Bobby Christine. Feel free to take that bait.


Barry, So Why Didn't You Say Before...

Why didn't you say you had spoken to Christine? Keeping that to yourself until way down the comments thread kind of sucks.

When I say most, I believe I'm right. I have a pretty good feel for what most readers want to know, probably better than you do. I'm not disparging your writing or editorials, but I'll put my reader interest knowledge up against anyone's.

So why not a story?


OK Barry, I saw your post

OK Barry, I saw your post after I submitted mine.
For the record:
1) my feelings were not hurt when Christine asked me to not run.
2) no one person or group of people asked me to file any complaint.
3) I knew that Christine endorsed Ron Cross by making an endorsement speech at his reelection announcement. After seeing how he is put on a pedestal by establishment politicos, and "knowing" that judges are not permitted to endorse candidates, I decided to read the Judicial Code of Conduct.
4) having read and understood the canons, I observed multiple violations, or what I perceived to be violations, while also observing the arrogance and deity complex that Christine displays. Thus, I chose to file the complaint about the formal endorsement speech.
5) whatever JQC says or does not say, the canon states that judges may not do what Christine did in his speech. Christine made the speech, did he not? Remember, I have the tape of the event.
6) at no time did any of my pals discuss with me that they/we want to run a candidate for any office, in this case, Chief Magistrate Judge. We did discuss the "new 12th" and who will win. But at no time was there any plan, ploy, or discussion about running anyone for any office.
7) in Septemberish, an attorney asked for a minute of my time. He said that he is thinking about running for a judicial position whose area encompasses several counties. My response was that he has my support.
8) what do you mean I can't win office? Barry man, you hurt my feelings.
9) at no time did anyone ask or hint that I file a complaint against Bobby Christine. I do know that I am not the only one who filed a complaint.

Now, can we let this go? Unless Christine has a press conference and addresses his Ron Cross endorsement speech, it appears as though we are saying the same thing over and over but with different terminology. But, to our credit, we kept this conversation dignified, which is quite a feat considering that we all must be in a bad mood over UGA's collapse this afternoon.


Barry, I Clearly Noted Lee's Coyness

I noted above that I wasn't taking any bait. You saw that. I also noted Lee's probable motives which I really don't think are that surprising.

I honestly think Christine is a good magistrate and has cleared up a huge backlog he was left with, but I also find it almost humorous that you and Austin want to ignore what is perfectly clear.

Barry Paschal

Can't (and wouldn't) speak for Austin

... but as for me, what I "ignore" are purely political attempts to use the system in an attempt to sully a good man's name. I won't be a party to it; nor would anyone who claims to have a shred of integrity. Or common sense.


By the Way, I'm An Outsider

Barry, you know I don't have any loyalities to any of the politicians. The only loyalty I have is to my group of commenter friends who try their level best to bring out the truth.


I filed one against Saunders

I filed one against Saunders for the Harbin campaign involvement. One was filed against Overstreet for...you probably know; presiding over the Marshall Square debacle that was kept on the down-low until after the primary, which is no big deal, but, he gave a hefty campaign donation to one of the biggest Marshall Square cheerleaders in the CSRA. Another was filed against Christine, my second. If JUDGE Bobby Christine told you that I filed four complaints against him, he is lying, or, knowingly not being truthful. I will say that the Commission (JQC) claims that it will do all within its power to keep all complainants' identities anonymous, unless certain facts are stated in the complaint that will lead the judge to deduce who filed it.


So How Do You Decide What FACT Sullies...

How do you determine which facts you should publish and which ones you shouldn't?

Barry Paschal

Be serious.

When any media cover, say, a meeting, we don't publish a transcript; we provide readers with relevant information. These complaints are trivial, as judged by the JQC, and are treated as such.


Mission Accomplished!!!

If no story is to be written, I still believe I've accomplished my purpose of getting the facts out here about Christine and his campaigning for Harbin against judicial rules for judges. Plus, it's been revealed the CCNT doesn't want to write about what happened. Mission accomplished in both regards. Good Night, to all my friends...and foes.


I can understand why one

I can understand why one would think that my complaints are politically motivated. That aside, are the facts less true?

All I can say is, that if Bobby Christine made an endorsement speech for Ron Cross' opponent, I would have told the opponent that judges making speeches in support of a candidate is against canon, and then show him the canon. I suspect that the opponent would address the matter with Christine. Then again, if Cross' opponent knew ahead of time that judges may not make such speeches, he probably would have told the judge ahead of time, thanks but no thanks.

What I really fail to see is why respected media folks (Barry and Austin) ignore facts, or appear to ignore facts, and try to spin this Christine's way. True, I would never vote for Bobby Christine. True, I think that Bobby Christine in an arrogant political opportunist. All of that aside, at the end of the day, Judge Bobby Christine made a speech endorsing a candidate for office, and Canon 7 prohibits such activity. That being the case, in my view, if the local media is being objective and impartial, it would say (paraphrasing of course), "Lee doesn't care much for Bobby although at one time he did. Lee supported Ron Cross' opponent. But Judge Christine made a speech in which he endorsed a candidate for office, and Canon 7 of Georgia's Judicial Code of Conduct prohibits judges from making speeches in support of candidates. Christine's response to the charge was,...". But all of this politically motivated he's a good guy stuff, is in my opinion and my opinion only, a cop out or a reason to excuse reporting on it. And we all know that a local judge who shall remain nameless is often ripped apart on the radio for certain decisions/sentences...and rightfully so. Here is a clear-cut example of a judge violating canon, and look at the above posts to see how respected media members explain its insignificance.

Barry Paschal

Well, congratulations.

Riverman, if you feel a sense of accomplishment from this overbaked debate over a non-issue, congratulations. And in that vein, I salute you in advance on your successful walk to and from your mailbox tomorrow.


One Last Question

I know I said goodnight, but one thing bothers me. Carlisle Overstreet and David Roper had their names removed from the Cross endorsement. Wasn't there an article saying they never gave permission for their names to be used? Is it that they realized it was improper and Christine didn't? Now THAT'S probably close to the truth. The problem is no one wants to admit it.


Barry, By the Way

Barry, as you know, I have a rewarding career which gives me a great sense of accomplishment.

Barry Paschal


...Roper asked to have his name removed. Overstreet didn't. Now go to bed; you need your beauty rest.



End of message.


In fairness to Barry, if the

In fairness to Barry, if the wise souls known as the Judicial Qualifications Commission had, I don't know, censured Judge Christine, or fined him or something, I'm thinking that Barry would write about it. But since, to our knowledge, nothing along those lines happened, he made one of those command decisions based upon his friendship with the accused, as is his right. It just steams my clams when judges, elected officials and the others simply do as they please, knowing that a good chunk is unethical, not permitted, or just plain wrong. Oh well, make your voice heard at the polling place.

Little Lamb

Freedom of Speech

Perhaps it is time to examine these "canons" of judicial ethics regarding political campaigns of others. Remember, these judges are politicians themselves. They have to file qualifying documents with the board of elections or secretary of state. They have to form campaign committees, raise money, and make campaign speeches.

Why not let them be complete politicians and endorse other like-minded candidates just like every other politician? If Barak Obama can endorse Harry Reid, then Bobby Christine should be able to endorse Ron Cross. Of course, if Ron Cross ever appeared before the bench, Bobby Christine should be ethical enough to recuse himself after such an endorsement.

I say, let the judges have a life. Let them campaign for others. It would be nice also to see them comment on stories in the News-Times and the Chronicle from time to time.

These canons seem a bit archaic.


In Conclusion

This story about Christine stepping down and the comments that followed were interesting. Austin jumped in early and threatened to smack anyone in the mouth who talked about Christine’s character. Lee emailed Barry and me proof of what he said with copies of official documents. We had a paid consultant for a certain group of politicians making comments. We had Barry Paschal coming out of commenting retirement in a lengthy series of posts. We had someone trying to smear Christine in a personal way that I reported and the post was removed. We had Christine and Barry talking as the thread went on so I assume what was being said was approved by Christine.

In conclusion, I believe it’s fair to say we had a consensus that what Christine did was improper and he was counseled by the JQC. Barry feels that it was a minor issue and wouldn’t do a story on the matter because it would sully the reputation of a good man. That right there is a disconnect. It was a minor impropriety, yet it could have harmed his reputation? Just how far do we go avoiding facts about “good men”?


Maybe a Story Will Surface

My view is the story should have been done and Barry could have slanted it with Christine’s explanations and downplayed the significance if he chose. The fact is it was news that’s especially pertinent again as Christine steps down. A couple of local online publications have been after me to write an article or two and I’ve always declined because I like to simply comment so much. But maybe it’s time this story was presented in full. I’ll try to do Christine justice and also report the facts if I go this route.

Barry Paschal

A correction to Riverman's post

Your 8:45 comment has an error, Riverman. Bobby Christine and I did NOT talk during or about this discussion. We last talked a couple of weeks ago and discussed this particular issue - which, once again, in the judgment of the JQC, is an ant-hill that some seem determined to turn into a mountain. Also, at no time, in any of this discussion, did I say there was no story (in my paper or elsewhere, though I can't speak for the elsewheres) because it might sully anyone's reputation. There was no story because there IS no story; a political opponent filed complaints, they were deemed marginal at best, and it ended. Anyone in the media has to be wary of manipulation, which is what it would be if the media allowed such minor issues - especially when those issues are driven by political operatives - to generate a story.

It should be noted in this discussion, by the way, that Columbia County's chief magistrate is one of the few such judgeships in the state that is a partisan position, which means the person holding the position is REQUIRED to engage in partisan politics. That creates a tightrope that judges in most counties don't have to walk.

Austin didn't "threaten" anyone, by the way, as you well know. But he can defend his own comments.

Back to retirement.


To Clarify...

As far as Austin’s threat, yeah, I know that’s just his hyperbole when he said he would smack anyone in the mouth who questioned Christine’s character. I hate to even get him involved because this gives him the opportunity to display his sycophantic self towards someone in power once again. I'll also remember that it's okay to say I'll smack someone in the mouth when something is posted I disagree with.

As far as you saying you weren’t talking to Christine during the thread. Okay. I asked at 10:34 last night because it seemed your posts changed during the thread to indicate you had, in fact, seen the emails and knew what Christine had said. If you had spoken to him earlier and were presenting what he said, fine. No big deal either way, but it does show that you knew about this issue a while back.

Just to be accurate about the “sully” remark. I used that word because you had. Here is what you said:

“... but as for me, what I "ignore" are purely political attempts to use the system in an attempt to sully a good man's name. I won't be a party to it; nor would anyone who claims to have a shred of integrity.”

Maybe I’m interpreting wrong what you said, but to me that pretty much says you wouldn’t run a story because such charges would "sully" his reputation? If you say that's not what you meant, fine. No big deal either way. What we do know is no story will be run....HERE.


What I've Learned

I've learned the "nicer" the person is in politics, running charities and generally just being a public figure the harder it is to get the truth out. People will go to great lenghts to defend the person when the hard facts tells us the truth.

Little Lamb

Judicial Conduct

I appreciate Lee for posting the link to the "Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct" on the first page of comments. I enjoyed skimming the document. By the way, the "Code" is not governmental. These ethical guidelines are written and investigated by the Georgia Bar Association, a private organization.

Here is an interesting sentence I found in the Preamble to the "Code":

The Code is to be construed so as not to impinge on . . . judges’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association.

Lee showed us that canon 7 says judges shall not endorse political candidates, but to me that could impinge upon freedom of speech.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Edited to add: Oooops. I was tooling around on the Georgia Bar Association web site and I found this sentence:

The Bar has strict codes of ethics and discipline that are enforced by the Supreme Court of Georgia through the State Bar's Office of the General Counsel.

So maybe my sentence up above regarding the ethical guidelines being privately enforced may not be accurate.


Just to correct a few

Just to correct a few misconceptions while the 'boys' are fighting among themselves...I am not a paid consultant for anyone in Columbia County. Not Dean, Harbin or anyone else.

Also, if in this day and time, when news is anything from the death of a world leader to moment to moment coverage of the Kardashian wedding....if something is deemed 'not newsworthy' it most certainly is not newsworthy.


Lakeside95, Were You in the Past?

Lakeside95, you said up the thread you were a paid consultant, I believe. Who did you work for in the past in Columbia County?