APS educators charged in cheating scandal accuse judge of unethical conduct

Judge Jerry Baxter

Kaha Karinshak is now in private practice. She worked as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta for eight years.

Like many in the legal realm, Karinshak is watching the Atlanta Public Schools CRCT cheating case closely.

"This is a case of public importance," said Karinshak.

Karinshak found out Tuesday that former APS Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall filed a motion requesting Judge Jerry Baxter recuse himself from the case.

"It's just another fascinating turn in this case. It's a case that everybody is watching nationwide," said Karinshak.

Hall and former APS Executive Director Tamara Cotman accuse Baxter of trying to influence Georgia's Court of Appeals.

"There's nothing normal about this case. This filing is just another thing that's totally not normal that's gone on in this case."

The court of appeals denied prosecutor's motion to dismiss Cotman's case. A jury acquitted Cotman on charges she influenced a witness. Her attorney filed for an appeal after Baxter refused to dismiss the RICO charge Cotman is facing along with Hall and the other educators.

This statement by the court of appeals prompted Hall and Cotman's attorneys to asked for Baxter's recusal:

"In an effort of full disclosure, we note that the trial court made multiple phone calls to the Clerk of the Court of Appeals inquiring as to the timetable of our consideration of the appeal and the State's Motion to Dismiss and urging quick action."

"I don't know if there is enough in there for a recusal. Certainly the defense lawyers think there is," said Karinshak.

Karinshak said until the hearing, it's unclear whether or not Baxter did anything unethical.

"The court of appeals' footnote doesn't say the judge contacted the court of appeals, it says the court. We don't know if it was his law clerk, an administrator or the judge himself," said Karinshak. "It doesn't say that he said, 'Vote for the state and rule in the state's favor.'"

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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