Two Counts Thrown Out Against Indicted Judge

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A federal judge has thrown out two charges
against a former Clinch County judge accusing him of using his
office to retaliate against a law enforcement officer who helped
prosecute the judge's son.

Former Superior Court Judge Brooks Blitch III, who resigned in May, still faces 14 federal counts charging him with widespread corruption. The charges include fixing cases to making illegal payments to courthouse employees.

U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson dismissed two of the charges against Blitch on Monday. He said prosecutors had wrongly interpreted a federal law protecting witnesses and victims from retaliation in criminal cases.

Prosecutors accused Blitch of trying to influence officials in Nashville and Adel not to hire a former Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who applied to be police chief in the cities in 2004.

The indictment said Blitch retaliated against the agent because he helped prosecute and convict the judge's son in a 1996 arson at a Ford dealership owned by the Blitch family.

Lawson ruled the law used by prosecutors to charge Blitch does not apply to retaliation against law enforcement officers.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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