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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Attorney says Winegarden campaign misleading

Four years after he was voted out of office as Superior Court judge, Richard Winegarden's race for State Court judge continues to hit roadblocks.

In the latest development, a local attorney claims Winegarden's campaign materials mislead voters and defy Judicial Qualifications Commission rules.

Christine Koehler, a high-profile lawyer, said Winegarden's yard signs and campaign website imply that he is a sitting judge, even though Winegarden left the bench after his 2008 defeat.

"All the verb tense lead you to believe he is an incumbent," Koehler said, adding that the JQC rules stipulate the candidates who are not currently on the bench should have "for judge" or "elect" on their signs. She had not filed an official complaint.

But Winegarden said his campaign materials are fine.

"I have looked at the Code of Judicial Conduct and the opinions of the JQC. There is nothing in there that suggests we are doing anything improper," he said. "If we were saying 're-elect' or 'keep' that would be a problem. If we put the title 'Judge' before my name that would also be a problem. The words 'for' or 'elect' are not required.

"What we are doing is totally proper," he added.

Koehler has given campaign funds to Emily Brantley, and she said she also considers the other three candidates -- Pam Britt, Norman Cuadra and Greg Lundy -- in the open race as friends. But she said there is a principle being violated by Winegarden.

"Being an incumbent in a judicial race usually provides a great advantage," she said. "With all the recent shenanigans of Gwinnett County, the last thing people need is to elect someone who has misled them from the beginning."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.

Comments

roaads1 2 years, 5 months ago

Complaintitis= Finding things to complain about when none exists.

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MissDaisyCook 2 years, 5 months ago

Especially from a high-profile CRIMINAL DEFENSE attorney that does not want a judge tough on crime on the bench.

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familylawattorney 2 years, 5 months ago

I am NOT a criminal defense attorney, I am a family law attorney, and I can verify that Ms. Koehler's statements--both here and in other publications--are absolutely spot on. I practice all over the metro area, and former judge Winegarden is without a doubt the worst judge I have ever been in front of. His disdain for the people in front of him--lawyers, parties, witnesses, even jurors--is legendary. At times he decides cases begore he has heard the evidence. He frankly just doesn't care about people, law, or justice. When I was in a class with him, I spoke about helping people settle their cases in a way that's best for the kids. He replied, "why would you do that? You'll never make any money that way." When i told him that the kids are the most important part of a divorce , he said, "i don't care. The kids aren't my problem." The people of Gwinnett County deserve a judge who will listen to the evidence and try to make the best decision based on the evidence, the law, and the principles of justice. Richard Winegarden will never be that person.

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NothingButTheTruth 2 years, 5 months ago

We aren't complaining because he has been GONE for the past 4 years after getting bruttally beaten, in his however many years of experience in the last election. Winegarden's personality disorder that I'm certain had a part to play in one of past 5 or 6 wifes.....it's hard to even keep track! ANY of the Judge's running would be 100% better on the first day on the job.

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Karl 2 years, 5 months ago

I remember Winegarden getting booted in the '08 election and that there was a concerted effort to remove him, but I don't recall what the issue against him was. Can someone in the know please elaborate?

Thanks--Karl

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Opinions_from_Dacula 2 years, 5 months ago

This article is dishonest with the inference that the Honorable Richard Winegarden has committed an act of impropriety in his campaign material. According to every source of etiquette I read, judges retain their title for life. The title of article " Attorney: Winegarden campaign misleading" is in itself misleading. The Honorable Richard Winegarden is a friend of mine who faithfully attends church and participates in a local small group bible study. My personal experience is that Honorable Richard Winegarden is an honest man of principle that had to make a difficult decision as a Superior Court Judge that went against a locally influential group that cost him his job.

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mickeyroberts 2 years, 5 months ago

He may be a friend of yours and go to church with you, etc; he is a good guy off the bench; the problem is we have 20 plus years history of him being on the bench; he has no judicial demenaor; he is rude, impatient and arrogant on the bench; add to that his personal problems of 4 divorces and a bankrupcty this May; Why would he deserve to sit in judgment of others??

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dac414 2 years, 5 months ago

Of course you feel this way, you are dating Richard Winegarden.

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NothingButTheTruth 2 years, 5 months ago

What was the big decision that went against what locally influetial group? That's not what a know about why he lost. He lost because there was example after example of his arrogant, rude, condescending behavior, lack of being able to keep his calendar on schedule, three times more backlogged with citizens sitting in jail waiting to be heard (we all remember the innocent until proven guilty), and an overall lack of manners and serious intimadation problems to attorneys, defendants and entire courtroom.

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NothingButTheTruth 2 years, 5 months ago

I am so glad that he attends church regularly and hope that his christian guidance and faith will help him make better decisions about his personal life and relationships. How does a man marry and divorse so many times? Why can't these wives stay married to him? I'm sure it's all their faults and he is being used by them. I also wonder if he is such a great man why his own son would request that his name be changed from Winegarden? At the last campaign, his then beautiful blonde wife was asked if she married 'Ol Richard to help his campaign for re-election. That was denied but she filed for divorse within a couple of months of his lose. I guess that was just bad timing! Attending church and sunday school does not a Christian make......we decide that based on character, actions, the language that comes from your mouth and intergrity.

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Gundoctor1 2 years, 5 months ago

Karl, Google this and you will have more info than you can read in several days. You should already know how to do this!!!!!!

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kevin 2 years, 5 months ago

what type of cases does a State Court Judge hear? Without knowing what he wil be ding, how can anyone make a good decision?

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NothingButTheTruth 2 years, 5 months ago

I thought that did misdemeanors and traffic violations, state criminal defendents and basically anything that the Superior Court does not handle. You would NEVER want to appear before Winegarden. I've been in the courtroom and it was CRAZY bad!

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CD 2 years, 5 months ago

Mailed my ballot today. I did not vote for RW because he was on the payroll long enough. Do some research on the others and make an informed choice. I try to avoid anyone that has served as a municipal solicitor in towns such as Suwanee or Duluth simply because they are part of the problem.

Please vote against T-Splost. I just racked up another 3 no votes today against this fiasco.

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WCHEAD 2 years, 5 months ago

I watched the video clips on Winegarden's web site. Unbelievable! False in MANY regards, just like the MISLEADING yard signs and ads that make it appear to the uninformed voter that he is STILL a judge. In his video clips, he claims that none of his opponents have any judicial experience. Complete horse manure. Norman Cuadra has been serving as a Judge in Municipal Court of Doraville for years. He has handled 1000s of cases, and has earned the trust and respect of citizens, police officers and prosecutors.

Winegarden also says that none of his opponents have trial experience. That is also a lie. Norm has acted as both a civil litigator and a criminal PROSECUTOR and as a criminal defense attorney. Norman and I took one of his cases all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court.

The truth about Winegarden is that he expects to waltz through this election riding on pure name recognition from prior ballots. He thinks that Gwinnett voters are stupid. Unfortunately, his is a BAD name, not a good one, and he must now FACE THE TRUTH.

The voting public needs to know the truth. And the facts point to his inability to make a living as an REAL, practicing attorney after he was turned out of office as a 5-term judge of superior court. Why? Because no one would hire him in the big firms and his courtroom reputation as a sadistic, sullen, cruel judge eliminated any ordinary citizens who ever appeared before him from seeking his experience handling "25,000" cases. POPPYCOCK.

Do his claims of grand, glowing "experience" coupled with filing bankruptcy earlier this year make any sense to anyone? If these were accurate statements, he would be in high demand as a trial lawyer and command big legal fees as a private practitioner.

He was not even able to get employed regularly as a mediator, due to his awful reputation. That is akin to being a pariah, in the legal world.

Please do not join him in his dream that his recent bankruptcy and 4 prior, failed marriages will not be noticed by Gwinnett County voters. Send him a clear message to NOT APPLY again.

Gwinnettians, you threw him out four years ago, for good reason.

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NothingButTheTruth 2 years, 5 months ago

Here we go again....having to rehash why Winegarden was not re-elected to his long held position on the Superior Court bench. All you had to do was ask ANYONE that had observed his courtroom (The D.A.office, any attorney, hundreds of familiy members) what the overall consensus was of his behavior. It was so off the Code of Conduct for Judges that I was shocked that he had been allowed to behave this way from his position without judicial reprimands. After hearing so many negative stories, I had an opportunity to sit in on a proceeding and I was so angry when I left after listening to Winegarden berate, yell, call names and then begin a sermon to the audience. The prosecutor rolled his eyes and sat down as if he had been through this many times and knew he would have a break for a while. Winegardens time served has left him critical, synical, bias, rude, arrogant, condescending and really I could go on for another paragraph. I think the oath of office of a Judge is very serious and effects real people and real lives. I'm not "easy on crime" but I am mindful of cost of running a jail and clogging the court system so that it does not function at it's best. As long as Danny Porter is the DA we don't need to be concerned with "easy on crime"......he's so tough on crime that he charged a 17 yr old that threw a tennis ball out of a car window with a HATE crime because the car it hit (no damage) had a black driver. Geez.....that was a little extreme!!

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dentaldawg83 2 years, 5 months ago

really need all of the old guard county "officials/politicians" to just go away...

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suedehead 2 years, 5 months ago

Here are some other good church going people:

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Earl Paulk, MIke Warnke, Robert Tilton, Coy Privette, Kenneth Copeland, W. V. Grant, Eddie Long, George Rekers, Jon Paulk, Creflo Dollar... the list goes on.

Let's also not forget the Catholic Church and their "look the other way" attitude towards pedophilic priests.

I'm so annoyed by "he regularly attends church and bible study" being measuring stick for a persons character and honesty. As if it means something. Many attend church because it is socially and professionally required of them. No different than being a member of the Jaycees or the Country Club. After years of going to church, I found half of the people in the pews on Sunday are nothing but hypocrites. My God hears and guides me ANYWHERE I AM and does it free of charge.

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