Judge Lee Recuses Self, Appears to Contradict Disclosure Records

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(APN) ATLANTA — Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Amanda Lee, who was elected in a 2010 election covered closely by Atlanta Progressive News, has recused herself from a case involving her former campaign manager and a law firm whose address appears as the campaign address on Lee’s campaign disclosure reports.

On March 06, 2013, Judge Lee recused herself from a case, Mark Skeete v. Adorno & Yoss, LCC, Cary Ichter, Patricia Roy, Scott Griffin, and Richard Carnegie.

Lee was responding to a March 04, 2013, motion to recuse filed by Plaintiff, Mark Skeete, through his attorneys, John Woodham and Robert Feagin.

In the motion and supporting documents, Skeete accused Lee of failing to disclose a conflict of interest involving Lee and Ichter, as well as another conflict involving Lee and Adorno & Yoss.

According to two Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports for Judge Lee’s 2008 and 2010 campaigns, Cary Ichter served as Chairman of Lee’s campaign.

Ichter is a party in the case that was before Judge Lee.  

In addition, the two reports show that Lee listed 1349 W. Peachtree Street, Suite 1500, Atlanta, Georgia, 30309, as her campaign address on the reports.

The address is the address of Adorno & Yoss, another party in the case that was before Judge Lee.

In a supporting affidavit, attorney Robert Feagin states that he only learned of the conflict on February 25, 2013.

“Judge Lee has never disclosed such special relationship to Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s counsel,” Feagin wrote.

In Judge Lee’s order granting the motion to recuse, she made certain to correct for what she wrote were factual assertions made in the motion.

“Cary Ichter did not co-chair Judge Kelly Lee’s 2010 campaign,” Judge Lee wrote.

“Adorno & Yoss, LLC was not the headquarters of or affiliated with Judge Kelly Lee’s 2008 or 2010 campaign,” she wrote.

“To avoid any appearance of impropriety based on the fact that Cary Ichter served as a co-chair of her 2008 campaign, Judge Lee hereby RECUSES herself from this case,” she wrote.

However, as already stated, Lee’s 2008 and 2010 disclosure reports indeed list Ichter as Chairperson of the campaign.

And the reports list the offices of Adorno & Yoss as the address of the campaign.

Therefore, the factual statements made in the ruling and in the disclosure reports appear to contradict each other on two separate points, and further, either the disclosure or the ruling, or both, are mistaken.

For example, Lee wrote in her ruling that Ichter did not serve as 2010 chair, but the disclosure report says he did.

And Lee wrote that Adorno & Yoss was not affiliated with the campaign in her ruling; however, according to Lee’s disclosure report, there was clearly at least some affiliation, even if Adorno & Yoss only served as the place where the campaign received its mail.

The case is currently before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk.

Previously, APN raised numerous concerns about Lee and her campaign during the 2010 campaign.

First, APN reported that Lee had at least two previous charges of Driving while Under the Influence.

Then, APN reported that Lee’s campaign was receiving assistance with phonebanking from the Fulton County Republican Party.  

In a five candidate race, Lee–who is White–had courted North Fulton as part of a strategy to lock up the North Fulton vote, while three Black candidates [Karlise Yvette Grier, Clarence Johnson, and Shelitha Robertson] and another White candidate, Chloe Dallaire, fought over Atlanta and South Fulton support.

John Fredericks, former publisher of the former Beacon newspaper in North Fulton, told APN that he supported Dallaire in the race, first because he had concerns about Lee’s DUIs, and because he said he was shocked to see all the North Fulton politicos, including members of the State legislative delegation, lining up behind Lee.

Fredericks–who since at least 2012–has been producing his own syndicated, right-wing talk radio program in Virginia, told APN that the North Fulton political establishment, for some reason, had come to believe that Lee would be “their” Fulton County Superior Judge, one that would reflect their values and that they could count on.

When APN asked Lee in 2010 about the support she was receiving from the Fulton County Republican Party, Lee told APN in an interview that she was also receiving support from the Fulton County Democratic Party.  

However, Nikema Williams of the FCDP told APN at the time that the FCDP does not take positions in non-partisan races.  That resulted in the first article by APN claiming that Lee had made an apparently deceptive statement.

Lee won the election in 2010, after emerging victorious from a Run-off Election with Shelitha Robertson, who is currently running for the Atlanta City Council Post 3-at-large seat held by Lamar Willis.  

Lee now holds the Fulton County Superior Court judge seat that was vacated by retiring Judge Melvin K. Westmoreland. Former Judge Westmoreland’s son, Matt Westmoreland, incidentally, is running for the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education District 3 seat currently held by Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, who is retiring.

 

(END/2013)

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