Bill Rankin's Legal Brief

The AJC's blog about the courts, crime and law

Judge investigated for using racial slur resigns

A North Georgia judge resigned Wednesday in the wake of an investigation over complaints he used a racial slur in open court.

Superior Court Judge Roger Bradley of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit informed Gov. Nathan Deal he would step down on Jan. 31. The judge came under investigation by the state’s judicial watchdog agency for using the “n-word” during a court hearing last March.

When asked Wednesday if his resignation had anything to do with the Judicial Qualifications Commission investigation into his use of the racial slur, Bradley did not address it.

“This decision came in anticipation of me retiring,” Bradley said. “The planets have lined up. … My family has been urging me to retire so I can travel, as I love to do, while I am still healthy.”

He declined further comment.

In a statement, Lester Tate, who chairs the state judicial watchdog agency, confirmed that Bradley had been under investigation. “The commission is satisfied that this matter has been concluded in a manner acceptable to the commission,” Tate said, declining further comment.

On March 16, Bradley was presiding over a hearing in which Fannin County prosecutor Morris Martin said he had a witness who had “a first name in somewhat of a derogatory nickname.” That witness was known as “(n-word) Ray,” Martin said.This led Bradley to ask a question, according to a transcript of the hearing.

“When I first moved up to this county in 1974, I was actually introduced to a fellow who lived right here behind the courthouse and he referred to himself, as did everybody else in town, not in a disparaging manner, as (n-word) Bob,” the judge said.

“That’s what everybody else addressed him as, but the comment you just made about one of the witnesses is known as (n-word) Ray, but not in a disparaging context, is that a spin-off of that same family?” Bradley asked.

George Weaver, an attorney representing the defendant in the case, told Bradley, “No, it’s not, it’s not.”

In his letter to Deal, Bradley said it had been a privilege and an honor to serve the judicial circuit consisting of Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties.

“With the fulfillment of those 15 years (which I have greatly enjoyed), it now is the ‘season’ to turn to the next chapter of traveling and visiting places I have always wanted to visit,” he wrote.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Bill Rankin covers criminal justice for the Enterprise team.