Georgia Unfiltered

Search This Site

13 October 2016

State Lawmaker Tried to Coerce Sexual Favors from Attorney While Serving on the Bench

State Representative Johnnie Caldwell (R - Thomaston) served as a Fayette County Superior Court Judge for fifteen years until allegations of sexual misconduct forced him from the bench.

(State Representative Johnnie Caldwell once served as a superior court judge until allegations of sexual misconduct forced him from the bench. Image courtesy Georgia House of Representatives.)
The accusations were part of a 238-page court document, obtained by Georgia Unfiltered, in which attorney Susan Brown detailed her interactions with Caldwell.

"Judge Caldwell approached me and said that he had just said to his friends, 'who's that hot blonde walking up,' and then he realized it was me," Brown testified. "He proceeded to ask me if I had a place to sit for the [Georgia football] game and told me that if I didn't, he would wipe one off for me and proceeded to wipe his mouth."

Brown went on to say that Caldwell would make off-color comments while in court, telling her to "wear my pants a little bit tighter so he could read my lips."

The two-term Thomaston Republican even offered to rule in Brown's favor if Brown would disrobe in his office.

"I reported the comment that he had made that if I wanted an order signed in my favor in the Crook case that I needed to come in his office in my light suit and take down my pants and at least let him look at it if I wasn't going to let him touch it," Brown's testimony reads.

Caldwell resigned shortly before Brown testified in court, telling WSB-TV, "I admitted it, what you're supposed to do when you're wrong." He then ran for state representative two years later and won the election by less than 500 votes.

Rep. Caldwell's past behavior is now at the center of a controversy regarding a constitutional amendment that would abolish the independent judicial watchdog agency that forced him from the bench. Caldwell sponsored the legislation, but he says he didn't do it to punish the group that caused his early retirement.

"My co-signing of the [Judicial Qualifications Commission] bill had nothing to do with my resignation as a judge (again, more than 6 years ago), but with letting the citizens decide if the make-up of the JQC should be changed to provide greater accountability due, in great part, to the controversy concerning the investigation and indictment of Judge Cynthia Becker," Caldwell told WXIA-TV in an emailed statement.

Susan Brown Johnnie Caldwell Testimony by Andre Walker on Scribd