You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

breaking news

New I-85 bridge on schedule, could cost up to $16.6M

Court orders new trials because of judge’s affair


The Georgia Court of Appeals has ordered new trials for five men convicted of serious crimes in Fayette County because their trial judge was having an undisclosed affair with a public defender.

The ruling stems from revelations in 2010 that Paschal English, then the chief Superior Court judge, had been involved in a sexual relationship with assistant public defender Kimberly Cornwell. The decision said English violated the code of judicial conduct and the five defendants were tried before a judge whose impartiality was compromised.

Judge Lisa Branch, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, said the court was “mindful of the suffering which new trials may cause the victims in some or all of these cases.” But judicial integrity is a state interest of the highest order and there is evidence that shows English was involved with Cornwell during each of the trials at issue, Branch wrote in the decision issued Friday.

Because the relationship was never disclosed, English should have disqualified himself from the cases, the ruling said.

Fayette District Attorney Scott Ballard said he will ask the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn the decision.

“We’re not condoning what happened,” he said Monday. “We don’t believe it’s been demonstrated that these defendants were injured because of what happened between their lawyer and the judge, and they shouldn’t be rewarded with new trials because of that. We’re also concerned about the victims.”

New trials were ordered for Christopher Wakefield and Travion Willis on charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and other crimes; William Nutt on charges of aggravated child molestation and aggravated sexual battery; Rashad Arnold on a charge of burglary; and Calvin Boynton on charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault, possession of a sawed-off shotgun and drug possession. Wakefield, Willis, Nutt and Boynton had been sentenced to life in prison, and Arnold had received a 20-year sentence, according to Department of Correction records.

A 2010 investigation into English and Cornwell’s affair disclosed that a sheriff’s deputy had caught the two in 2008 having sex in a parked car. The Court of Appeals’ decision cited evidence indicating the relationship had gone on from October 2008 to March 2010.

English resigned from the bench in April 2010 amid an investigation by the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission. Cornwell was placed on administrative leave without pay and left the public defender’s office.



Next Up in Local

BREAKING: 2-car crash reported in Hall County
BREAKING: 2-car crash reported in Hall County

One person was injured in a two-car crash at Ga. 347 and Bogan Road in Hall County, officials said Tuesday. That person was flown to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Hall County fire spokesman Zachary Brackett told Channel 2 Action News. Drivers are urged to avoid the area. Further details were not released. — Please return to...
Attorney implicates suspect’s father in deaths of Gwinnett mom, son
Attorney implicates suspect’s father in deaths of Gwinnett mom, son

The attorney for a man accused in the slayings of a Gwinnett County mother and her 2-year-old son implicated the suspect’s father, Channel 2 Action News reported Tuesday. Attorney Robert Greenwald said at a probable cause hearing that Austin Williams, the father of suspect Brandon Williams, found the bodies in the upstairs bedroom of a house...
Actual Factual DeKalb: Where did Panola Road get its name?
Actual Factual DeKalb: Where did Panola Road get its name?

Hey, Cornelius. This is a bit of a tough one. I can’t seem to find an official story of how the road got its name, but the word “Panola” is found all around that part of south DeKalb. That could be the key. According to a research paper by Ryan D. Hurd, an area around Panola Mountain State Park, just over the DeKalb-Rockdale...
Alleged Wal-Mart shoplifter pulled knife on cop, Cobb police say
Alleged Wal-Mart shoplifter pulled knife on cop, Cobb police say

Police arrested an alleged Wal-Mart shoplifter Tuesday who officials said pulled a knife on an officer before leading them on a chase in Cobb County.   Marietta police were making two arrests for shoplifting about 11:30 a.m. at the store on Cobb Parkway when one of the suspects pulled a knife and threatened the cop, Officer Chuck McPhilamy...
South Fulton mayor, council to be sworn in Saturday
South Fulton mayor, council to be sworn in Saturday

The mayor and council members in the new city of South Fulton will be sworn in Saturday. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at Benjamin Banneker at 6015 Feldwood Road in Atlanta. South Fulton, with about 100,000 residents, becomes an official city May 1. Last week, residents elected Bill Edwards as mayor. They also elected: Catherine Rowell to...
More Stories