A former probate judge in south Georgia who was under investigation for alleged judicial misconduct resigned from his post to run for statewide office. Documents show that the candidate for Georgia Secretary of State also agreed that he would not seek a judgeship in the state of Georgia for seven years.
As a former law enforcement officer, Torri “T.J.” Hudson has a lengthy political resume. He’s served as the Chief Magistrate Judge and Probate Judge in Treutlen and Johnson counties since 2005 and worked as the Treutlen County Elections Superintendent. He’s well-known in judicial circles, having served as the Chair of the Training Council for the Council of Probate Judges. Hudson also swore Governor Brian Kemp into office in 2019. Of biggest news, this past April, Hudson announced that he was running for Secretary of State on the Republican ticket.
But last week, news broke that Hudson’s resignation to seek the SOS position was prompted by another incident: an investigation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC). The state agency said Hudson possibly violated 10 canons of judicial conduct. Then, he signed a consent agreement filed with the Georgia Supreme Court that bars him from serving as a judge in Georgia for the next seven years.
The JQC initiates investigations into judicial officers after a formal complaint is filed with the agency. Members of a 10-person commission review the relevant information for a preliminary inquiry and discuss the appropriate action. Those actions can include referral for further investigation and requiring the judge to appear for questioning. Upon completion of the investigation, the commission can opt to close the complaint (if it was without merit), admonish or reprimand the judge, or file formal proceedings. If a violation is found in the latter two options, the commission then makes recommendations to the Georgia Supreme Court for retirement, censure, suspension, or removal from office.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that Hudson’s JQC matter “was being investigated on allegations that he required a person appear in court for a contempt hearing and then wrongly sentenced that person to jail time.” No specific details of the individual jailed were included in the public report.
Hudson, who has stated since April that he stepped down from his position to run for statewide office, has offered no comment on the consent agreement, saying only that the matter was “well-handled” by the JQC.
In Georgia counties with a population of less than 90,000, probate judges are not required to be attorneys in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia. The requirements include only two years of residency in the respective county, an active voter registration, a high school diploma, and that a person be at least 25-years-old. Treutlen County’s population in 2019 was approximately 6,900.
At this time, Hudson will join Congressman Jody Hice and David Belle Isle, former Mayor of Alpharetta, in the Republican Primary election against Brad Raffensperger.