There is an extraordinary story coming out of Georgia this week where two Murray County sheriff’s deputies pleaded guilty in federal court for their part in a scheme to frame a woman, Angela Garmley (left), after she accused Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran of soliciting sex from her in return to favorable treatment in her pending divorce case. Three other women have accused Cochran of such abuse.
Garmley says that on April 9, 2012, she went to the court in relation to an assault on her on the previous day. She says that Cochran asked to meet with her alone in his office and starting questioning her about the state of her marriage. She quotes him as saying “My wife doesn’t take care of my sexual needs and I need a mistress to have sex with I can trust.” She says that the judge said that he had “a real boner” for her and allegedly told her to “Come back on Wednesday with a dress and no panties so we can have sex.”
After she made the charge against Cochran, she was arrested for possession of methamphetamines. She insisted the drugs were planted in retaliation for the charge against Cochran. She was stopped by Deputy Josh Greeson as a passenger in a car because the driver failed to dim his headlights. Greeson used a drug dog to search the car after noticing Garmley stumble slightly and that she had “slurred speech.” Greeson said that the dog located a small metal can stuck under the driver’s door containing meth.
Garmley could have faced decades in jail and has now accused Cochran, two deputies, and a handyman named C.J. with the conspiracy.
Notably, the drug charge was dropped, but it takes one year for the charge to be removed from Garmley’s record.
The deputies are awaiting sentencing on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury.
Cochran has resigned. However, this came after an investigation into other violations of whether Cochran “allowed the prestige of his office to advance his private interests” and he “pre-signed blank arrest warrants for completion by law enforcement officers while he was absent from the office.” Before his resignation, Cochran dismissed the allegations by Garmley: “This is a politically timed, politically motivated personal attack on my family and I.”
The missing link here is the role of the former judge. If he was involved in the conspiracy, it is not clear why he has not been criminally charged. If he was not involved, what was the motivation for the conspiracy. Of course, even if that allegation is unproven or unsubstantiated, there appears more than enough basis for his removal if he had not resigned.