published Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Murray County judge accused of pre-signing warrants

ATLANTA — A prosecutor says a judicial watchdog agency is investigating a north Georgia judge for allegedly pre-signing warrants for law enforcement officials.

District Attorney Bert Poston said the Judicial Qualification Commission is investigating Chief Magistrate Bryant Cochran of Murray County over the accusations. Public defender Mike McCarthy said he was aware of the investigation.

Police must explain to a judge why they believe a suspect likely committed a crime before getting a warrant. If a judge believes there is probable cause, he then signs the warrant, allowing the police to arrest the suspect.

Cochran attorney Christopher Townley told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/P8iLKE ) that if the public defender's office thinks there were illegal warrants, they will be "greatly disappointed."

Officials for the Judicial Qualifications Commission declined to comment.

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