July 2, 2010
ATLANTA—Georgia State University College of Law Professor Clark Cunningham was interviewed for a WSB-TV Channel 2 Investigation which uncovered records that reveal an unflattering incident in the brief legal career of current Insurance Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine. Before he ran for state office, he represented a small company in a tax dispute. During the case, the judge described Oxendine's behavior as "an abomination" and said he'd like to end his career.
A whistleblower steered Channel 2's Richard Belcher to civil action 89-V-36917 in the Houston County Courthouse in Warner Robins. It's a dispute filed in 1989 about a modest amount of money. Court documents show Oxendine represented a cleaning company that had a contract at Robins Air Force Base in Houston County. Belcher showed the court documents to Cunningham, who noted that when a dispute arose about Oxendine's client providing records to the plaintiff, things got ugly.
"Over and over again, it appears that there was simply no response to the orders of the court," Cunningham said.
According to the records, by July 1991, Superior Court Judge Lewis McConnell was furious about Oxendine’s refusal to produce the documents the judge had ordered months before. The hearing transcript reveals the judge's attack on what he considered Oxendine’s contemptible legal conduct.
"I've never seen a court transcript where a judge said things like this," Cunningham said. The transcript of McConnell’s comments read, "If I knew I could suspend you from practicing law in the state of Georgia for the rest of your life I would do so. You’re an an abomination as far as I'm concerned."
Read the full story and watch the broadcast video on the WSB-TV website.
Earlier this week, Cunningham was quoted in a story in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer by Chuck WIlliams on a Columbus police investigation into the city Parks and Recreation Department and a local criminal defense attorney representing multiple clients involved in the probe.
According to the story, Stacey Jackson, one of three candidates Gov. Sonny Perdue is currently considering for appointment to a vacant Muscogee County Superior Court judgeship, is representing Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams and three other department employees - Herman Porter, Shelley Stephens and their boss, Margaret Brown. According to the city attorney’s office, Jackson also briefly represented five other Parks and Recreation employees the police wanted to interview, though Jackson said he was never actually their attorney.
It is uncommon for one attorney to represent five or more clients in a police investigation, Cunningham said.
"If you are representing six people starting up a business or community garden, that is not unusual because they have exactly the same interests," Cunningham said. "In a criminal investigation, it is very unlikely each member of the group has the same position and point of view."
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