Practicing law forces judge to step down

LAWRENCEVILLE - Judge James Oxendine stepped down as a senior judge last week when questions arose about his involvement in the county government's recent questionable land deals.

Documents show Oxendine, 81, the father of Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, acted with power of attorney for Elite Land Development, which sold land along Lakes Parkway to the county.

District Attorney Danny Porter, who is looking into that transaction, along with several others, to present to a special grand jury, turned the documents over to the county's Superior Court judges.

"It's evidence that he is engaged in the practice of law," Porter said, adding that does not constitute a criminal matter, but it violates the judicial cannon of ethics.

Porter said the Judicial Qualifications Commission is aware of the violation, but an official with the commission was not available to answer questions Wednesday.

He said Oxendine's secretary notarized the document, which shows he was practicing law in the county courthouse.

"Because of questions that have arisen regarding my executing certain documents with a power of attorney, last week I accelerated my retirement which had been planned for the end of the year," James Oxendine said in a statement released through his son's gubernatorial campaign. "I want the people of Georgia to know that I have been honored to serve them."

Oxendine was appointed a Gwinnett Superior Court judge in 1992, and in 2002, he took part-time senior judge status. A senior judge works on a per diem basis.

John Oxendine offered his father support.

"My dad has served the people of Georgia and I am proud to stand up for him," the younger Oxendine said in a statement. "He has been a light to my pathway my whole life and career. I love my dad. He is a wonderful man."