This story about former Municipal Court Judge Haywood Turner is from our 2007 archives.
Municipal Court Judge Haywood Turner admitted in a police report released Friday that he brandished a pistol while driving in an August incident, though he never pointed it at the driver who accused him of just that.
"Judge Turner stated he never pointed the pistol at the subject and in fact never removed it from the holster but simply held the gun up," the Columbus Police Department report states.
Turner, who pleaded guilty to reckless driving Wednesday, was initially charged with two counts of pointing a gun. The charges were dropped and the judge was formally accused in February of reckless driving.
"A prosecutor's responsibility is to consider the totality of the facts of a case and proceed in an appropriate manner," Troup County Solicitor General Nina Markette Baker wrote in a letter to the Ledger-Enquirer. "I determined the best way to proceed was to file a charge of reckless driving."
Baker, who was assigned the case when Muscogee County Solicitor General Ben Richardson recused himself, said Turner's sentence of 12 months probation, $1,000 fine, 40 hours of community service and attendance at an anger management program is "a serious punishment for a first misdemeanor conviction."
The charge stems from an incident at the intersection of J.R. Allen Parkway and Second Avenue. Army Sgt. Frederick Lumzy was attempting to change lanes when a nearby Mercedes sped up and blocked his vehicle. Lumzy told police he tried to get over, couldn't, and when he looked at the driver of the Mercedes, he was pointing a pistol at him.
Lumzy followed the Mercedes on the J.R. Allen Parkway to Bradley Park Drive, calling 911 on his cell phone to request police help. He lost the Mercedes when it made a left turn from a non-turning lane, he told police. Lumzy later identified Turner as the driver, picking him from a six-person photo array displayed by detectives. Turner was subsequently arrested on a warrant accusing him of pointing a gun at another.
The report also says that a passenger in Lumzy's car "could not see" a gun. Turner's lawyer, J. Mark Shelnutt, said the dismissed pistol charge therefore would have boiled down to a "swearing match" between Turner and the victim, Lumzy.
Turner's attorney at the plea session, Peter Hoffman, said Wednesday it was in his client's best interest to plead guilty to the reckless driving offense. In the police report, Turner states Lumzy yelled at him, and that he raised his gun because he thought Lumzy might come after him.
Shelnutt said Baker was a tough negotiator on the plea agreement. While he believes Turner would have prevailed at trial, he didn't go to court because of the negative publicity a gun-pointing charge would have generated.
"She (Baker) came after him hard," Shelnutt said. "If (Turner) had been Joe Blow, this case would never have been presented. She didn't cut him a break because he was a judge, I'll tell you that."
Russell Gabriel, director of the criminal defense clinic at The University of Georgia, isn't so sure. He said he would like the Judicial Qualifications Commission to examine the offense.
The commission investigates complaints of misconduct, which must be submitted in writing. Judges can be removed from office for willful misconduct in office and conduct that brings the judicial office into disrepute, among other things.
Turner received first-offender status for his plea, which means his record will be expunged if he meets the terms of his probation. Gabriel said that the commission could still examine the issue, because it deals with conduct and a criminal charge isn't necessary for it to take up a complaint.
"It's just outrageous conduct," Gabriel said. "He's lucky to just been charged with reckless driving. It's a good outcome for him. My compliments to the lawyers."
SUPPLEMENTAL POLICE REPORT ON INCIDENT INVOLVING JUDGE HAYWOOD TURNER On 08-23-06 Frederick Lumzy reported to Officer R. Leonard that a white male pointed a pistol at him as they were driving on to J.R. Allen Parkway from 2nd Avenue. It was later determined the car that was occupied by the white male was registered to Judge Haywood Turner. An initial report was filed and forwarded to the Detective Division where it was assigned to Detective R. Jackson. On 08-24-06 Detective Jackson contacted Mr. Lumzy and asked him to come to the Detective Office for a statement. Mr. Lumzy reported to Detective Jackson that he and Tran Diep O/F were traveling north on 2nd Avenue at the entrance to highway 80 (J.R. Allen Parkway) in the left hand lane. Mr. Lumzy stated he realized the left lane that he was traveling in ended and that he had to merge to the right lane. Mr. Lumzy stated he put his right turn signal on and was going to merge and observed an older model silver Mercedes in the right lane. The Mercedes accelerated pulling within a short distance of the car in front of it so as to not let Mr. Lumzy merge to the right. Mr. Lumzy stated he moved his wheel to the right in an attempt to get over but never entered the right lane. Mr. Lumzy stated the white male then reached down and raised a pistol that appeared to be a black revolver. The white male looked directly at the victim and pointed the pistol directly towards him. Mr. Lumzy stated he immediately slammed on brakes and the car behind the Mercedes let him in front of him.
Mr. Lumzy stated he followed the Mercedes and got the tag number and then called 911 to see if there was an officer in the area. The Mercedes exited on to Bradley Park Drive and the victim followed him to the intersection where the Mercedes was able to turn on to Bradley Park. The victim stated he had to wait for several cars to pass before he could get on to Bradley Park and was still on the phone to 911. Mr. Lumzy stated the white male looked at him and knew he was on the phone. The white male then went to the traffic light at the entrance to Target and stopped at the red light in the left straight lane. The two left turn arrows turned green and the white male edged over until a car had to let him in and the white male turned left into Target's driveway. Mr. Lumzy stated when he got to the light he turned in the same driveway but no longer saw the Mercedes and waited for the police.
Mr. Lumzy stated he did nothing on 2nd Avenue to provoke the white male into pointing the weapon at him. He stated he only attempted to merge over but never even got into that lane until the car behind the Mercedes let him in. He was asked directly if he said anything to the white male or "gave him the finger" and the victim stated nothing like that happened and there was no conversation.
The tag number given came back registered to Haywood Turner III who is the local Municipal Court Judge.
Detective Jackson also interviewed the passenger in the Car, Tran, Diep, on 08-25-06. Ms. Diep is Vietnamese and does not speak very good English. She stated she saw the car not let them over but the window was up and is tinted so she could not see a gun. She stated she only saw the profile of the man and was not sure she could identify him.
Mr. Lumzy was shown a line-up of six white males, which included Judge Turner in the number two position. Mr. Lumzy immediately pointed to Haywood Turner's photograph and stated he was the one in the car. Mr. Lumzy initialed the photograph showing that he identified that photograph. Judge Turner was not on file in the mug shot file so a line-up was made with an identification photo and five other photographs of white males with a similar description. The line-up was then copied so the photos would look as close as possible in color and texture.
On 08-25-06 Detective R. Jackson issued two warrants for Haywood Turner, which were signed by Judge Peters. Judge Turner was notified of the warrants and arrangements were made for him to turn himself in. Judge Turner met Detective Jackson at the Detective Office and the paperwork was completed. Judge Turner stated that he in fact had his gun in the car and when the subject tried to move over he raised the gun up because he thought the subject may come after him. He stated the subject was yelling at him through the window and he became frightened. Judge Turner stated he never pointed the pistol at the subject and in fact never removed it from the holster but simply held the gun up.
Judge Turner was taken to the County Jail for processing.
The case is set for 08-28-06 in Recorders Court but a bond of $2,000.00 was set and will be posted.
THIS CASE IS CLEARED BY ARREST
BEHIND THE STORY: OBTAINING THE REPORT
INITIAL INCIDENT REPORT INCLUDES LITTLE INFORMATION; EXCLUDES THE JUDGE'S NAME A First Amendment attorney said it appears the refusal by the Columbus Police Department to release information in a report regarding Municipal Court Judge Haywood Turner is a violation of the Georgia Open Records Act.
The information contained in a "supplemental report," which includes an officer's narrative about what people alleged occurred near the intersection of Second Avenue and J.R. Allen Parkway --- where Turner was accused of pointing a gun at another driver in August --- is separate from the two initial "miscellaneous incident" reports filed by the officer. The initial reports have little information and don't include the judge's name.
First Amendment attorney Walter H. Bush Jr. said regardless of when the information was gathered for the report, it should all be included in the initial report, which is a public record.
"They can't claim that's part of the investigation," Bush said. "It's clearly a violation of the Georgia Open Records Act. When they refused to give you the 'supplemental' incident report, it was a violation."
Hollie Manheimer, executive director of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, said all supplemental incident reports are subject to release under the Open Records Act, regardless of the investigation's status.
Ledger-Enquirer Executive Editor Ben Holden said the choice of which information to be entered into a particular report is a policy issue.
"It seems that the Columbus Police Department is violating the act as a matter of policy," he said.
Police Chief Ricky Boren disagreed. He said his office bends over backward to provide open records to the media and public.
"We do not violate this policy as a matter of routine," he said. "In fact, we do not violate this policy at all."
The supplemental report was requested in writing on Thursday. Copies of the request were given to Sgt. R. Graham with the Office of Professional Standards, and to the offices of the city manager and city attorney. Graham said he didn't know if the case was closed. He added he had three business days to hand the document over, if required by law.
Assistant City Attorney Jaimie DeLoach said she later told police that as long as Turner has the possibility of appeal --- and he can withdraw his plea up to the end of April --- the report stays closed. It need not be handed over unless the prosecutor, in this case Troup County Solicitor General Nina Markette Baker, decides to release it.
Baker gave the newspaper the complete report Friday.
"He (Bush) can say anything he wants to, but the statute says 'initial,' " DeLoach said, referring to the documents covered by the Open Records Act. "If you ask me for more than the initial incident report, I'll say you have to go to the prosecutor."
Quest for police reports in Judge Turner incident shows disregard for public's right to know. Voices, B2 POLICE REPORT
Read the full account of the August 23 incident