Hart County Probate Judge Bob Smith Resigns

Hart County Probate Judge Bob Smith has resigned.

Northern Judicial District Attorney Parks White tells WLHR News Smith tendered his resignation on Wednesday.

“Smith’s last day is September 30th, but he will remain on medical leave until then,” White said Thursday morning. “He has also agreed not to perform any further court functions and will not pursue any other public office.”

White said Governor Nathan Deal accepted Smith’s resignation. White said he is working with the Secretary of State’s office to appoint an interim Probate Judge until a special election can be held.  White said it is up to the County to decide whether Smith will continue to be paid through the end of  September.

A State hearing set for today in Elbert County on whether Smith should remain in office was cancelled late Wednesday.

Last week, the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission filed a Motion for Emergency Interim Relief with the Georgia Supreme Court to remove Hart County Probate Judge Bob Smith from office pending the outcome of formal proceedings.

The Committee requested the court appoint a Special Master to look into charges of alleged misconduct by Judge Smith.

Smith turned himself in on May 23rd to the Hart County Sheriff’s office on charges of misdemeanor simple battery and criminal attempt to commit sexual battery. He was later released on bond.

According to the filing, on May 21, Judge Smith allegedly called the Bryan County Probate Judge’s administrative assistant on behalf of a woman who had gone to him for help with an outstanding traffic citation in Bryan County.

During that phone conversation, the filing states Judge Smith allegedly falsely stated that he was calling on behalf of his granddaughter in an attempt to influence the outcome of the woman’s case.

Additionally, the filing states that the victim told authorities that after that phone call, Judge Smith allegedly fondled and kissed her without her permission.

Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission Chair Robert D. Ingram states in the filing that Smith reportedly admitted to both allegations during interviews with the Commission’s Chief Investigator.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission motion concluded, “The continued service of Judge Smith as Probate of Hart County is causing immediate and substantial public harm and an erosion of public confidence in the orderly administration of justice. His conduct appears to be in violation of the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct.”

Meantime, Chief Investigator Mike Ayers with the GBI office in Athens confirmed Thursday his agents were in Hartwell Wednesday continuing with their investigation in to the charges against Smith, but he did not elaborate on the specifics of that investigation.

White recently told the Hartwell Sun, Smith’s criminal case will go to the Hart County Grand Jury, when they meet in mid-August.