|Jack T. Camp|
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the actions of a former federal judge to determine if drug abuse and racial bias had an impact on his rulings from the bench.
Jack T. Camp recently pleaded guilty to federal drug charges related to his relationship with a stripper and resigned as a U.S. district judge in Atlanta. The Camp investigation produced evidence that indicates he was not an impartial arbiter on the bench, according to an article in the Newnan (GA) Times-Herald.
It appeared the Camp matter would end with his sentencing on March 4. But U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the U.S. Public Integrity Section is examining evidence that parties might not have received lawful treatment in Camp's courtroom. Camp has ties to Alabama, where he served as special judge in the high-profile case of Mobile outdoorsman Edmund H. "Eddie" Smith.
Reports the Times-Herald:
The disclosure regarding the investigation into whether or not Camp's judicial decisions were affected by his use of drugs or alcohol says, in part, "While Camp's use of these drugs was not limited to weekends, he denies that he used any of these drugs contemporaneously with any court business, and we are currently unaware of any demonstrable evidence to the contrary. We have not discovered evidence of illegal drug use prior to May 2010."
Perhaps more substantive are signs that racial animus played a role in Camp's judicial actions:
Yates' statement regarding the question of bias begins by saying, "Witness 1, (the dancer) who became acquainted with and developed a personal relationship with Camp in approximately May of 2010 stated that Camp disliked a particular individual ("Individual A"), who was African-American and who also had a personal relationship with Witness 1."
According to Witness 1, Camp told her that when African-American men appeared before him, he had a difficult time adjudicating their cases and specifically determining their sentences because he could not differentiate them from Individual A in light of his feelings about Individual A, according to Yates' statement. Witness 1 also stated that she had recorded this conversation but was unable to find the recording.
Favoritism, in various forms, apparently was a common feature of Camp's decision-making:
Another case involves allegations that Camp said a female defendant reminded him of Witness 1 (the exotic dancer) so "he gave her a 12-month sentence instead of the suggested 60-month sentence."
The report goes on to say, "We identified a case during this period where Camp sentenced a white female defendant to a 15-month prison term instead of the 30-37 months recommended by the Sentencing Guidelines. There is also evidence that confirms that Camp consulted with Witness 1 (the exotic dancer) during the relevant period regarding the sentences that he imposed."
Camp reportedly denied making decisions based on racial bias, but the U.S. attorney does not sound convinced:
Yates concludes by saying, "Our only interest in any case that we have prosecuted before Camp is ensuring that justice is served. To that end, given these disturbing facts and allegations, this office will evaluate any criminal case adjudicated by Camp for impairment or bias that a defendant requests that we review. Furthermore, from May of 2010 forward, there is evidence that Camp's judicial decision-making process may have been impacted by bias and/or impairment and it has been established that he was involved in criminal conduct during this period. Therefore, we will not object to a defendant's request for a resentencing in any case in which the defendant was sentenced during this time."
We have some quibbles with this statement from Yates. Why should any reviews be limited to matters regarding sentencing? What if Camp, in his biased and drug-addled state, made decisions that caused an innocent person to be convicted? And why is the DOJ going to wait for defendant requests before considering reviews? How about a thorough review of all cases, from top to bottom, in which Camp has been in charge--at least those in the past three or four years?
Also, the reviews should not be limited to criminal matters. How many parties in civil cases might have been cheated before Camp? My guess? A whole bunch of them.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Camp went to great lengths to protect Sherry Ann Ramos, the stripper who proved to be an FBI informant. Reports the AJC:
Some of that corroboration may come from Ramos' former landlord, who told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview in November that the judge had bullied her in a dispute over the lease but said the judge sounded surprised and angry when she told him that Ramos, who is white, was living with a black man.
Katrina Hardy, who rented her Union City condo to Camp’s girlfriend, said she was considering legal action against Ramos when she got a call from Camp, telling her he was a judge and she should back off. Hardy said his tone changed when she told the judge about his girlfriend’s living arrangement.
“I said, ‘You know she’s living with a black man,"’ Hardy recalled. “And he said, “What!”
Yates said there was evidence the judge consulted Ramos about sentences he was going to impose.
As ugly as the Camp story is, we doubt that it is all that unusual. We suspect there are numerous judges around the country, at both the state and federal levels, who are dysfunctional and downright dangerous. Like Camp, these bad actors know they answer to pretty much no one, and that makes them stunningly arrogant.
Jack Camp is not a lone bad apple. Others like him just have not been caught yet.