Georgia judge guilty of planting meth in the car of woman who said he sexually harassed her
A former judge in Georgia was convicted of conspiring to plant methamphetamine in a woman’s car after she publicly accused him of sexually harassing her, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Bryant Cochran, then the chief judge of Murray County’s Magistrate Court, met with Angela Garmley about a legal matter on April 9, 2012. During that meeting, he repeatedly made sexual advances towards her. Although Garmley did not contact authorities about the sexual harassment, by the middle of July 2012, allegations of Cochran’s unwanted sexual advances had leaked to the public.
According to prosecutors, Cochran had Clifford Joyce — a tenant in a trailer park Cochran owned — place a magnetic box containing five packets of methamphetamine under the rear of her car. On August 14, 2012, Murray County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joshua Greeson pulled Garmley over and searched the car for drugs — unsuccessfully.
Deputy Greeson called his Captain, Michael Henderson — who is also Cochran’s cousin — who then called Cochran. After a brief conversation, Captain Henderson called Deputy Greeson back and informed him that he had information that Garmley hid drugs in a magnetic box under the left rear of her car. The deputy found the box containing the methamphetamine and arrested her.
Garmley insisted that she had been set up, and one week later, Clifford Joyce confirmed her story, confessing to having planted the drugs on her car. As the conspiracy unraveled, Cochran resigned as Murray County’s Chief Magistrate Judge.
A jury found Cochran guilty of conspiring to distribute a controlled substance and witnessing tampering, as well as an unrelated federal civil rights charge for sexually assaulting a court employee.
After his conviction, United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said that “Cochran abused the trust placed in him by the people of Murray County. Cochran used the power and influence of his judicial position in a way that is the fundamental opposite of justice, arranging to have a citizen falsely arrested after she accused him of sexual misconduct. There is no greater breakdown in the justice system than when a judge uses his authority to wrongly seek to deprive a citizen of her liberty.”
Watch a report on the judge via Chattanooga News below.