The most recent episode in the legal troubles of suspended Griffin Superior Court Judge Robert “Mack” Crawford came last week when the Georgia Supreme Court decided to let the state Court of Appeals act first in determining if the recommendation by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) to permanently remove him was legal.
The Supreme Court delayed a decision on whether to permanently remove Crawford — who faces a criminal indictment — until the state Court of Appeals decides whether the action recommended by JQC is legal, according to R. Robin McDonald reporting for law.com on July 25.
Crawford previously challenged a recommendation from JQC that maintains he should be removed from office for theft of court funds.
Crawford was arraigned on April 4 in Pike County Superior Court, entering a plea of not guilty to charges of felony theft by taking and felony violation of oath by a public officer. The trial date was tentatively set for Sept. 6.
Suspended after being indicted on charges of stealing $15,675 from the court registry, Crawford on March 22 told a state JQC panel that he made “a big mistake” when he directed a court clerk to pay him the money, according to a previous article in the Fulton Daily Report.
A suspension notice signed Dec. 3 by JQC Presiding Officer Robert C. I. McBurney noted that a Pike County grand jury on Oct. 31, 2018 returned a true bill of indictment charging Crawford with two felonies – theft by taking and violation of oath by a public officer, and relating to a July ruling from JQC where Crawford was charged with “egregious” judicial misconduct relating to the theft of more than $15,000 from the registry of the Pike County Superior Court.
JQC referenced Crawford’s order to the Pike County Clerk of Court to disburse $15,675.62 in funds from the court registry to him by check. Crawford then cashed and used a portion of the check for his personal benefit and deposited the remainder of the money in his personal checking account. The funds either belonged to his clients or were unclaimed property that should have gone to the Ga. Department of Revenue, JQC said in the July 24, 2018 ruling.