A North Georgia judge under investigation for his use of a racial slur from the bench is stepping down.
Judge Roger Bradley, who served in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit for 15 years, told Gov. Nathan Deal in a letter Wednesday he would retire at the end of the month. The Appalachian Judicial Circuit covers Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties.
"To everything there is a 'season,'" Bradley wrote in his letter. "With the fulfillment of those fifteen years (which I have greatly enjoyed), it now is the 'season' to turn to the next chapter of traveling and visiting places."
Bradley did not return multiple calls seeking comment on his retirement. He is the second of four superior court judges in his circuit this year to leave his or her post. After an appointment from Deal in October, Judge Amanda Mercier joined the state's Court of Appeals on Jan. 1.
Bradley drew criticism from some members of the Blue Ridge, Ga., community after he presided over a pretrial hearing involving a black witness last March. Before calling Allen Duray Green to the stand, Assistant District Attorney Morris Martin said he believed Green went by the nickname "(N-word) Ray."
Bradley then began to tell a story from the bench, as some court employees say he is known to do. He told those in the courtroom about a black man he met in Fannin County in the 1970s.
"He referred to himself, as did everybody else in town, not in a disparaging manner, as (N-word) Bob," Bradley said. "And that's what he addressed himself as. That's what everybody else addressed himself 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?"
The two black men were not related.
The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission is the arm of the state government charged with investigating misconduct by judges. Concerning most cases, however, members of the commission are not legally allowed to say whether a judge has been punished — or even if the judge was ever under investigation.
But after Bradley's announcement, commission Director Mark Dehler said in a statement: "The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission is satisfied that this matter has been concluded in a manner acceptable to the Commission."
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