A federal grand jury indicts former Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran.
The federal charges stem from accusations of planting drugs and soliciting sex from defendants in his courtroom and even co-workers. Cochran has been indicted on 6 counts including for sexually assaulting a county employee, for framing a woman who claims that Cochran sexually propositioned her and for tampering with a witness.
McCracken Poston, Attorney said, "There were a number of things that he did in running that office that by any measure are appalling. So to find that some of them rose to the level of criminal conduct is somewhat refreshing I think." Attorneys Poston and Stuart James have spent two years working on the civil cases against Judge Cochran, and Wednesday they found out about the federal criminal indictment. James said, "Its been very difficult because the central piece to everything we have been doing has been Bryant Cochran, and now he is under indictment. So we are really pleased about it."
James and Poston represent six people who all came forward with allegations ranging from requests of sexual favors to orchestrating the planting of drugs. The first to come forward, Angela Garmley, had meth hidden in her car by a police officer working with Cochran. Poston said, "There is a lot more of what did happen. This indictment of six counts just scratches the surface." Poston found it surprising that the grand jury's findings included more than just Angela Garmley's case. Poston said, "The indictment also went back in time in the offices of the magistrate court and dealt with two more of my clients, really three more of my clients, who had suffered under his regime for many years."
Both attorney's say their clients are relieved by the support from the government. James said, "We wanted to make sure that everybody who is responsible for what we alleged was done wrong to our clients would be held accountable, and it looks like the US attorney has decided that there is going to be some accountability on Bryant Cochran, and we hope that he pleads or is found guilty."
Cochran's Lawyer, Page Pate said they were not surprised the indictment was returned, but were surprised by the sex allegations. Pate says Cochran is not guilty. Cochran's arraignment is set for Federal Court in Rome, Georgia Thursday at 1pm.