A Chattanooga attorney said he is representing a woman who claims that a Murray County magistrate made sexual overtures to her when she was seeking a warrant for assault.
Attorney Stuart James said he and Ringgold attorney McCracken Poston "are investigating claims of sexual intimidation by Murray County Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran.
He siad the claims by Angela Garmley are being filed with the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Attorney James said, "The investigation surrounds abuse of power and use of his judicial office to exercise undue influence over a litigant in his court. Judge Cochran allegedly used his judicial office in an attempt to compel or persuade Garmley into committing sexual acts with the judge. Garmley, a victim of an assault who was at court seeking warrants against her assailants, was brought into the judge's office, asked a series of invasive questions about her marital status and her sexual preferences. The Judge used his office to attempt to curry sexual favors from Garmley, including making demands that she return to his office in a dress "without panties" and suggesting that they have sex. The Judge attempted to use his office and position as judge over a case in which Garmley was a victim to intimidate or persuade Garmley into submitting to sexual acts with the Judge against her will."
He said he and attorney Poston "are investigating allegations of judicial misconduct into Cochran's actions against Garmley and, potentially, other individuals in Cochran's court or to whom he met in the duties of his office"
The two attorneys last year represented a county employee in sexual harassment claims against Murray County and former sole commissioner David Ridley.
Attorney James said, “I find it personally abhorrent that any judge within Georgia’s judicial system would attempt to use his or her office to curry favor from litigants within the court system. Judge Cochran's actions demonstrate to the people of Georgia that the Judicial Qualifications Commission and the legal system need to police the system to protect citizens from such abuses.”
Attorney Poston said he was “shocked” at the allegations of the judge's conduct. He also added that" he has been contacted by others who are detailing similar abuses by Cochran." He said, "The county courthouse is the last place that a citizen should fear intimidation, abuse or be asked to trade sexual favors for justice."
Attorneys James and Poston said they "will work with the JQC to fully investigate the claim, and in any future litigation regarding the abuses."