Former Murray County Magistrate Bryant Cochran, who had been investigated on allegations of having evidence planted on a woman who allegedly spurned his advances, has been indicted.
The six-count indictment from the Northern District of Georgia says he conspired to have a citizen falsely arrested, and also says he was involved in the distribution of meth.
Attorney McCracken Poston, who represented Murray County citizens Angela Garmley, Joe Garmley and Jason Southern after their highly-publicized "wrongful arrests" on Aug. 15, 2012, and who with Chattanooga attorney Stuart James now represents the three along with three former employees of the Murray County Magistrate Court in civil lawsuits, on Wednesday released the following statement reacting to the federal charges.
"On behalf of the three citizens who were wrongfully arrested on that August 2012 evening, and on behalf of the three ladies who as employees suffered under the realm of Bryant Cochran's abuses on a daily basis, we want to thank the United States Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for finally bringing these charges, a first step toward justice."
Mr. James said, “As far as the civil claims are concerned this opens new doors for our clients, who are the victims in this claim. Once Cochran is arraigned we will vigorously move forward on our civil claims to protect our client’s rights and interests.”
"For almost two years Mr. Poston and others have alleged wrongdoing by Cochran while in office, ranging from requesting sexual favors from Ms. Garmley while she was a litigant in his chambers; to orchestrating the planting of methamphetamine on Ms. Garmley's car and having her pulled over and arrested for the drugs - all after she went public and to the Judicial Qualifying Commission regarding Cochran's sexual advances and requests. The three former employees of the Magistrate court have cooperated with federal authorities and have given details of a most unusual workplace headed by Cochran, a sexually-charged and perverse hostile workplace environment endured by the women.
"Former Murray County Deputy Sheriff Josh Greeson and Captain Michael Henderson have pled guilty and are serving time for their roles in the conspiracy to set up and arrest Ms. Garmley. Clifford Joyce, a former tenant of Cochran, has pled guilty to planting the drugs on Ms. Garmley's car, saying he did i t for his landlord. The drug and charges against Ms. Garmley and Mr. Southern were dropped, as well as obstruction charges against Mr. Garmley, as the conspiracy unraveled and was revealed.
Attorney Poston said, "Now that the government has finally made federal criminal charges against the former judge, we look forward to watching Mr. Cochran avail himself of each and every constitutional right and privilege that he wanted to deny my clients."
Click here to read the indictment.