To obtain an arrest warrant, an officer must submit a sworn affidavit to a judge outlining why there is probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a crime. Only after determining that there is probable cause does the judge sign the warrant.
Judge Bryant Cochran, a Magistrate in Murray County, Georgia for the past eight (8) years, resigned from the bench on August 15th after an investigation by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission confirmed that he was leaving pre-signed and undated arrest warrants for officers to use when he was not available to sign them.
Cochran is quoted as saying, “I accept full responsibility for the warrants that were pre-signed. This is SOLELY the reason for my resignation.” However, one woman maintains that Cochran sought sexual favors from her in exchange for favorable rulings and another has reported that Cochran propositioned her after she sought help from him in a criminal matter.
Former Georgia legislator McCracken Poston represents the first of these women, Angela Garmley. Garmley was a passenger in a car that was pulled over the day before Cochran resigned. She consented to a search, and a drug dog found a magnetic container with drugs in it under the car. Garmley maintains that she was unaware of the drugs and that they were placed there by someone else in an effort to frame her.
Poston urged the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation into the possibility that Cochran was involved in Garmley’s arrest because she had been cooperating with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. In recent news, the Murray County sheriff has suspended two deputies in connection with Garmley’s arrest. It is unclear whether the Murray County District Attorney’s Office will bring criminal charges against Cochran or these deputies.