Pop quiz: What happens if you fail to notify people that you have subpoenaed their bank records?
Pop answer: You get indicted for identity fraud and attempt to commit identity fraud. Wait, what?
Oh yeah, that's how it works in a little place called the Appalachia Judicial Circuit. That's why people are calling the local chief judge "Boss Hogg," the unethical commissioner of Hazzard County.
Subpoenaed Judge's Records
Boss Hogg was a fictional television character, but Judge Brenda Weaver is the real deal. She presides over a five-judge superior court in Jasper, Georgia. It's a city of 3,684.
Weaver rose to national fame after she orchestrated the arrest of a local journalist and an attorney who subpoenaed her bank records. They were investigating whether the judge funded a private lawsuit against the newsman for criticizing a court reporter.
It gets small-town worse. According to reports, the judge's husband said he was "coming after" the journalist and the attorney. But most of that is just backstory; they have all been cleared.
The latest episode in the legal drama aired this week. Now the newsman and the lawyer are suing the judge.
Suing the Judge
Mark Thomason, the journalist, and Russell Stookey, the lawyer, allege the judge used her position to maliciously prosecute them. They claim they were humiliated and lost business.
The lawsuit says the judge pressured authorities to indict them because she was angry about their investigation. Thomason, who suspected the judge misappropriated public funds, was also indicted for making a false statement in a records request.
"We're almost two years after the fact of being arrested and multiple times throughout every day I'm still living with the aftermath," he said.
In the meantime, Weaver was cleared of any wrongdoing in the affair by the local judicial qualifications commission, which she used to chair.