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April 12, 2012

Notable final(?) chapter in sad saga of former federal judge Jack Camp

This AP article, headlined "Review finds judge showed no bias," reports on the latest echoes of the (now dated) saga of former Judge Jack Camp who committed remarkable federal crimes while still on the bench. Here are excerpts from the piece, which also reviews the backstory:

Prosecutors say they have found no evidence that mental impairment or racial bias affected any cases handled by a disgraced judge who was sent to prison for buying drugs with a stripper, ending the U.S. Attorney office’s review of the ex-jurist’s legal decisions.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said her office reached that conclusion after examining the cases of 29 defendants who asked for the review after former U.S. District Judge Jack Camp was arrested in October 2010. Camp, who resigned from the bench, was sentenced to 30 days in prison in March 2011 after pleading guilty to drug-related charges.

Yates called for the review after witnesses interviewed as part of the federal investigation into Camp suggested he had a racial bias, and Camp admitted in court filings that a 2000 bicycling accident caused brain damage and led him to use drugs.

“I hope that this demonstrates to citizens we serve that we are committed to justice, not to convictions,” Yates said this week. “When you have a situation that strikes at the heart of our justice system, we have to do everything we can to assure that the public has confidence in the system.”

Camp, who has been out of prison for about a year, said in a statement to The Associated Press that he felt vindicated by the review. “Today, the U.S. Attorney has publicly confirmed what I never doubted throughout this ordeal,” he said. “I am pleased the report vindicates that my decisions were fair, impartial, and true to the law. Just as drug tests by the government had already shown no controlled substances, the report further confirms the fact that my work as a judge was never affected by drugs.”

Camp was 67 when he was arrested in a suburban Atlanta parking lot on Oct. 1 after he handed the stripper $160 to buy drugs from an undercover officer, according to court documents. The stripper was secretly cooperating with authorities.

The married judge, who has two grown children, pleaded guilty soon after his arrest to buying drugs for the stripper, possessing illegal drugs and giving the woman his $825 government-issued laptop. The former judge apologized at the March 2011 sentencing, saying he wanted to pay the debt he owed to society and rebuild his reputation.

Yates recused her office from the criminal case against Camp, but knew her office would need to deal with appeals filed by defendants who believed they were unfairly treated by the judge. Yates said she decided her office would not object to any requests by any defendant sentenced by Camp between March 2010 and September 2010 — when Camp was believed to have been using drugs — for a new sentencing hearing with a different judge.

Of the 12 defendants who did so, six received the same sentence Camp had imposed, and five others’ sentences were reduced. Two of those were reduced when the new judge accepted a request from prosecutors that Camp had rejected to reduce the sentence because the defendants cooperated with authorities. One case is still pending. It’s not unusual for a sentence to be reduced when the details of the case are heard by another judge....

Yates decided her office would consider reviews for the hundreds of cases that Camp heard during his 22-year career on the bench. “We recognize that feelings of racial bias don’t arise overnight,” she said. “We felt it was important to tell any defendant who went before Camp that we would hear their case regardless of when it happened.”

Twenty-nine defendants made the request, and Yates assigned a team of 25 attorneys to review the cases. They spent hundreds of hours reading the trial transcripts, vetting motions and reviewing court filings. Each filled out a nine-page form with details about the case, detailing any potential problems with Camp’s decisions and issues regarding the “fairness or integrity of the judicial process.”

The attorneys went to great lengths to document anything out of the ordinary involving each case, even noting when Camp, who was known as a temperamental jurist, became cranky, lost his train of thought or forgot the name of an attorney trying the case....

Yates said the review brings an end to her office’s vetting of the case. “This closes this chapter. It’s been a very difficult and troubling chapter for everyone,” she said. “But it’s something for us to be mindful of to make sure that the public be treated fairly.”

Camp, for his part, said he’s moving on from the “dark chapter” in his life. “I deeply appreciate the encouragement offered by friends both near and far as I have come to terms with my mistakes, learned to manage my condition, and begun to forge a meaningful path toward the future,” he said in the statement.

Related prior posts (which have generated lots of notable comments):

April 12, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

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"...and Yates assigned a team of 25 attorneys to review the cases. They spent hundreds of hours reading the trial transcripts, vetting motions and reviewing court filings. Each filled out a nine-page form with details about the case, detailing any potential problems with Camp’s decisions and issues regarding the “fairness or integrity of the judicial process.”

That is the real aim, isn't it. A pretext, then jobs for government lawyers, then a total waste of time and money.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 12, 2012 11:19:28 PM

Right and your not biased..... try again!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 13, 2012 2:15:18 AM

Rent seeking is a synonym for armed robbery. It should be criminalized by statutes. If you do not pay your taxes, a man with a gun will show up and help you do so. Then you get nothing back, as in this case, just not shot. Under these rent seeking statutes, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates would be arrested, fined, and imprisoned for stealing tax payer money and returning nothing of value, except make work forms filled out. Why not the same expensive reviews after any adverse judge event, a speeding ticket, a bump on the head, a cold. There is an Israeli study discussed by Prof. Berman showing that sandwiches shorten the sentences meted out to defendants. She should be checking the cases that were decided before lunch, with their greater chance of revealing a bias.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 13, 2012 6:30:36 AM

Drugs and a gun mean a 5 yr Federal sentence in my District. Always wondered if the Judge had a brain injury that was severe, why he would be left on the bench...But this wasn't of importance until he met up with his drug/hooker girlfriend....Close enough for government work...Enough said..

Posted by: Abe | Apr 13, 2012 2:56:21 PM

The sad part of this sad saga is the favoritism he was given. This white, older, professional, law-school-educated, judge-employed man specifically said he brought a gun to a drug deal in case it was needed. How was he given a mere 30 DAYS? It's simply unbelievable. And I guarantee you any black, young, uneducated defendant would NEVER have received the same treatment.

Posted by: anon | Apr 13, 2012 11:02:48 PM

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