Court closes after judge tells defendant they can't leave until - CBS46 News

Court closes after judge tells defendant they can't leave until traffic fines are paid

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BOWDON, GA (CBS46) -

A judge in Georgia was caught on camera telling defendants that if they didn't pay their traffic fines, they'd be put in jail.

Judge Richard Diment was caught on camera at the Bowdon Municipal Court, which is about 65 miles southwest of Atlanta. 

“You can’t send someone to jail simply because they don’t have the money, that’s a debtors prison,” said criminal defense attorney Pate Page.

He also said the threat made by the judge is illegal.

“There was no attempt to determine if he had the money to pay or not to pay. He just decided if you don’t pay, you’re going to jail and that’s not right,” said Page.

In the video, you hear Judge Diment telling one person, “…do what you need to do call friends, family, call your employer…but until you get $300 here tonight, you won’t be able to leave."

Page believes these defendants are being taken advantage of.

“Especially in smaller towns across the state, they need money and this is a place where they can get it,” said Page.

One man said the threat didn’t sound like anything Judge Diment would say or do, telling CBS46 he’s been nothing but fair.

CBS46 received an email from Judge Diment which said he’d be available to speak on camera about the matter on Friday.

In the meantime, Bowdon’s city attorney said municipal court will be closed for the next month until better practices are put in place.

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