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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

LL, Interesting

They don't appear to be strictlcy enforced.

"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."

Riverman1

I've Decided

Here is what Austin said after Lee made his opening post:

"...no one of substance has any real problem with Bobby Christine, and the man who would step forward to question his character would deserve a smack in the mouth."

I've decided if anyone questions Lee's character I'll invoke the Ali G rodeo routine against them with modifications since things like saying you will smack someone in the mouth are okay here.

Ali G: "I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards," he said, according to Brett Sharp of Star Country WSLC, who was also on stage that night as a media sponsor of the rodeo.
"And may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq."

Note mine is obviously comedy while Austin's isn't.

Barry Paschal

Austin can defend his own comment...

...but really, Riverman: You even reposted his exact quote, so surely you know that Austin did not threaten to smack anyone in the mouth. Had he done so, and if you do so, such a comment would be a violation of the TOS. Austin said a person in such a situation "would deserve a smack in the mouth." That is NOT the same thing as saying he would deliver such an assault. But, of course, you know that.

Riverman1

Okay, so anyone who says something I disagree with..

Okay, from now on, I'm going to describe in minute detail what someone deserves being done to them if I disagree with them. That's not a threat according to you.

Barry Paschal

Really, Riverman?

If you're having trouble with reading comprehension, I'm sure there's help available.

Riverman1

Two Versions of Harbin's Campaign Disclosure Report?

I'm reading there are two different versions of the same Campaign Disclosure Report for Ben Harbin out there. It's actually the SAME report, not something that's been amended. One lists Christine as the Chairperson of Harbin's campaign. The other one doesn't. I wonder what's up with that? None of this is important though...right?

Riverman1

Barry, My Reading is Fine, Your Writing Not So Much

If you are not careful, I'm going to open a liquor store in your strip mall newspaper office space and run you back to town.

Barry Paschal

Oh, no, Br'r Fox!

Hahaha... You know, before the latest Japanese place opened here, we'd heard it was going to be a big liquor store that would fill that space and the former aquarium store next to it. Sadly, that didn't pan out.

Riverman1

Anyone Who Would Question My Reading Comprehension Deserves..

Anyone who would question my reading comprehension "would deserve a smack in the mouth."

Is that how it works?

Riverman1

Vision of the Aquarium Tanks Breaking

Too bad those aquarium tanks never broke and washed y'all out of the building like a tsunami.

CobaltGeorge

SandBox

The only vision I derive from the comments above, is CC has a large sandbox with two little boy playing in it. Have to admit, one can throw more sand accurately than the other. Pretty soon one will go home and cry to Ma-Ma.

LBenedict

A clip from what I sent out

A clip from what I sent out on Saturday:

To the present, there is a local anonymous blog that has been online for a year or thereabouts and has been critical of Christine, Harbin, Cross, and even me. On May 04, 2011 it posted this: http://columbiacountyconservativeviewpoint.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/our-... and at the end of the story is a copy of Ben Harbin's Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report submitted on "1/7/11 6:23 pm" for the reporting period ending December 31, 2011. How can this be? How can you submit something on 1/7/11 for something that ends 12/31/11? Again, click the link and view the report. Now, this very moment, if you were to go to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission's disclosure website, you will see a report dated "1/7/11 6:23 pm" for the reporting period ending "December 31, 2010". There is no amendment filed. How can the dates change without an amendment? More important, on the report posted by the blog in May (page 1 of the attachment), the campaign committee is reported as being "Chairperson: Bobby L. Christine Treasurer: Willie M. Saunders". On the report accessed today (page 2 of the attachment) and with the same "E-filed on" date of "1/7/11 6:23 pm", the campaign committee reads "Chairperson: William Byrd Lee IV Treasurer: Elizabeth Barton". How can this be? Two different reports submitted during the same minute of recorded time?

The attachment contains nine pages, the front page of nine different disclosures with eight different report dates and times. The committee consists of Christine and Saunders on the reports filed 10/7/10, 9/6/10, 5/10/10, 4/3/10, 1/8/09, and 1/7/11. The committee is listed as Lee and Barton on the reports filed on 1/6/10 and 1/7/11. It appears as though someone is going back and altering official reports by removing the names of judges and replacing them with the names of those who are not judges in order to "erase" evidence of judicial wrong doings. However, I can only offer evidence that the 1/7/11 report was altered and not the 1/6/10 report. But you can see that the team of Christine and Saunders was in place well before and after "1/6/10".

LBenedict

Part of what I released on

Part of what I released on Saturday:

To the present, there is a local anonymous blog that has been online for a year or thereabouts and has been critical of Christine, Harbin, Cross, and even me. On May 04, 2011 it posted this: http://columbiacountyconservativeviewpoint.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/our-... and at the end of the story is a copy of Ben Harbin's Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report submitted on "1/7/11 6:23 pm" for the reporting period ending December 31, 2011. How can this be? How can you submit something on 1/7/11 for something that ends 12/31/11? Again, click the link and view the report. Now, this very moment, if you were to go to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission's disclosure website, you will see a report dated "1/7/11 6:23 pm" for the reporting period ending "December 31, 2010". There is no amendment filed. How can the dates change without an amendment? More important, on the report posted by the blog in May (page 1 of the attachment), the campaign committee is reported as being "Chairperson: Bobby L. Christine Treasurer: Willie M. Saunders". On the report accessed today (page 2 of the attachment) and with the same "E-filed on" date of "1/7/11 6:23 pm", the campaign committee reads "Chairperson: William Byrd Lee IV Treasurer: Elizabeth Barton". How can this be? Two different reports submitted during the same minute of recorded time?

LBenedict

I posted pieces of what I

I posted pieces of what I released on Saturday that relate to RM's 12:02 post. But they do not appear. Apparently they are awaiting moderation.

LBenedict

In May, I printed a copy of

In May, I printed a copy of Ben Harbin's Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report submitted on "1/7/11 6:23 pm" for the reporting period ending December 31, 2011. How can this be? How can you submit something on 1/7/11 for something that ends 12/31/11? Now, this very moment, if you were to go to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission's disclosure website, you will see a report dated "1/7/11 6:23 pm" for the reporting period ending "December 31, 2010". There is no amendment filed. How can the dates change without an amendment? More important, on the report printeded in May, the campaign committee is reported as being "Chairperson: Bobby L. Christine Treasurer: Willie M. Saunders". On the report accessed Saturday and with the same "E-filed on" date of "1/7/11 6:23 pm", the campaign committee reads "Chairperson: William Byrd Lee IV Treasurer: Elizabeth Barton". How can this be? Two different reports submitted during the same minute of recorded time?

LBenedict

The attachment I released

The attachment I released contains nine pages, the front page of nine different disclosures with eight different report dates and times. The committee consists of Christine and Saunders on the reports filed 10/7/10, 9/6/10, 5/10/10, 4/3/10, 1/8/09, and 1/7/11. The committee is listed as Lee and Barton on the reports filed on 1/6/10 and 1/7/11. It appears as though someone is going back and altering official reports by removing the names of judges and replacing them with the names of those who are not judges in order to "erase" evidence of judicial wrong doings. However, I can only offer evidence that the 1/7/11 report was altered and not the 1/6/10 report. But you can see that the team of Christine and Saunders was in place well before and after "1/6/10".

Little Lamb

Judges and Politics

Thank you for bringing this up, Lee. It seems many, many, many judges all across the state like to dabble in political races. I say, “Let them.” We voters are capable of separating the wheat from the chaff. We do not set judges up on pedestals and bow down to them. In fact, we often criticize them. Sadly, we also often re-elect them.

I say those canons calling participation by judges in electoral politics unethical are archaic and need to be removed from the ethics document. The best way to get that started is for the judges to start a nullification movement and put themselves on campaign committees all across the state. Prior restraint on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly must go!

LBenedict

True, so true, and judges

True, so true, and judges have the responsibility to address the matter with the JQC. However, at this point in time, judges and judicial candidates may not make speeches on behalf of candidates. It is black-letter law and in place and Bobby Christine must have known the canons. However, he showed what he thinks of them (and us) by his very actions. The way I see it, when a judge's canons prohibit making speeches on behalf of a candidate, but a judge does it regardless, he thinks that he is above it, but, he gets to don a black robe and pass judgement on us, which, may have life-long effects on others.

Little Lamb

Nullification

That's what I mean by nullification, Lee. Christine is getting out of the picture now, but I hope the other judges will stand up and make those campaign speeches on behalf of other candidates, endorse other candidates, make campaign contributions, serve on others’ campaign committees. Nullify the canons! Nullify the canons!

Riverman1

LL, Interesting Again

Little Lamb, you say judges should be able to support political candidates. Should U.S. Supreme Court Justices openly support political candidates? Ha, you have to love Judge Alito mouthing "not true" as Obama spoke. Doesn't the judge being apolitical create the impression the judge would rule impartially regardless of political persuasions? But where you hit on it correctly, is the fact they probably rule in ways that help their friends anyway. So why hide it?

Of course in this case, the rules are/were plainly in effect. No amount of changing names on forms can hide the truth of what happened. If that, in fact, happened as is being reported in other places, isn't it against the law to change a state government form as was apparently done?

(Anyone who ever disagrees with anything I say deserves a smack in the mouth.)

Little Lamb

Patriotism

Some say patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, and here I am. But didn't we learn as kids that the most patriotic thing the average citizen can do is participate in the electoral process? But here we have those old fogeys in the Georgia Bar Association prohibiting judges from participating in the electoral process in any except their own elections! The bar association wants the judges to appear unpatriotic.

LBenedict

Then let the judges bring

Then let the judges bring about the change. If they do not, then that is their call. Perhaps they have tried to in the past. I don't know. But the truth is, if they cannot adhere to their own canons, then respectfully decline the appointment and do not run for a judicial office. Since Bobby Christine accepted the Associate Magistrate Judge and then the Chief Magistrate Judge positions, he (should have) agreed to follow the rules. However, with him and his ego and his superiority complex, he has a clear pattern of doing as he pleases and leaving the rules for others to follow with him sitting in judgement.

Riverman1

Austin Was Quiet Today

I didn't catch all his show, but he never mentioned Lee's charges which leads me to believe he knows it's a no win discussion. They all know Christine did wrong and the strategy is to ignore it and not debate the issue or try to justify it. We'll see if anything comes of these legal forms that appeared to change.

LBenedict

Ain't it a shame that so many

Ain't it a shame that so many people have problems with the obvious truth?

Little Lamb

Garden of Eden

Since we see that Overstreet, Roper, Christine, Saunders, and who knows how many other judges across the state did what comes naturally to a candidate for office, i.e., form coalitions and help out others’ campaigns in hopes they will receive support in return — we need to recognize that behavior for what it is. These judicial cannons forbid such activity. Assisting another candidate is akin to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. The canons forbid an activity that comes naturally. Naturally, these judges just have to take a bite from that apple and campaign for others.

This Judicial Qualifications Committee took a look at Lee's complaint and decided to ask the judges to quit. By recent appearances, the judges tucked their tails and ran into the bushes and have indeed withdrawn their names from campaign committees. My guess is that the allure of the forbidden fruit will slowly draw them back into the political fray someday. It's just what politicians do.

Riverman1

Defendant Before Judge

Defendant says, "Judge, I didn't know it was against the law and it's a stupid law anyway."

Judge, "Yeah, I know how that works. Just take your name off the form, put someone elses name on it and sneak it back into the state office. Then join the Army."

LBenedict

RM, great post on today's

RM, great post on today's column! I have heard nothing from anyone with regard to my Saturday email regarding the apparently altered disclosure report which leads me to believe that "they" are protecting their boy, or, it just isn't pertinent to anything. I disagree. I have an idea on how to get some truthful answers and accountability: a "congressional" with a copy of the tape and all of the disclosure reports as supporting documents.

Barry Paschal

Announcement today

Emcee at Chamber breakfast this morning announced that Columbia County chief magistrate and Georgia National Guard Lt. Col. Bobby Christine has been called to active duty, effective May 14. Perhaps Mr. Benedict now will be moved to revisit whether he "buys" Christine's explanation for declining to run for re-election.

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