Boy, have the political winds shifted. Last month, obituaries were being drafted for the campaign of Republican US Senate candidate Greg Brannon in the wake of an unfavorable court decision. Then, we heard from Brannon’s co-defendant in the civil suit, who told us all about some strange goings-on in the courtroom — including some rather bizarre interactions between the judge and the jury. THAT gets followed up with a revelation that the judge was a 2008 campaign donor to Kay Hagan — who Brannon just happens to be running to unseat this year.
Now, it appears a formal complaint has been filed with the state Judicial Standards Commission against the Brannon case judge, Bryan Collins of the Wake County Superior Court, by Jodi Riddleberger, a leader with the Tea Party-affiliated Conservatives For Guilford County.
We’ve obtained the text of the March 19 complaint submitted by Ms. Riddleberger:
To: The Judicial Standards Commission
This matter needs immediate attention:
According to the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct judges should “uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.”
A. A judge should respect and comply with the law and should conduct himself/herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
B. A judge should not allow the judge’s family, social or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment. The judge should not lend the prestige of the judge’s office to advance the private interest of others;
On motion of any party, a judge should disqualify himself/herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality may reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where: (a) The judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, (c) The judge knows that he/she, individually or as a fiduciary, or the judge’s spouse or minor child residing in the judge’s household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding,
C. Financial activities.
(1) A judge should refrain from financial and business dealings that reflect adversely on the judge’s impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s judicial duties….
I am writing to make a formal complaint against Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins – there is a clear violation of this code of conduct in his presiding over the Greg Brannon civil case, if this information is true:
“A jury verdict on February 18, 2014 found US Senate Candidate Greg Brannon liable for giving “misleading or false information in 2010 to investors regarding a mobile application being developed by Neogence Enterprises, a now-defunct tech company he helped start.”
As a result, Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins, who presided over the case, found Brannon must reimburse the two investors who were plaintiffs in the case over $450,000. There is controversy sounding the merits of the case, and Brannon is appealing the ruling.
But who is Judge Bryan Collins? According to Judgepedia.com, “Collins is a superior court judge for the 10th Judicial District of the Third Division of the Superior Court, serving Wake County in North Carolina. Collins began his legal career as an attorney in private practice from 1985 to 2005. In 2005, he became the Public Defender for Wake County. He was then elected a superior court judge in 2012 and his current term expires in 2020.”
According to a November 6, 2012 article in the Raleigh News and Observer, “Collins, 52, said he was approached last year by Don Stephens, Wake County’s senior resident Superior Court judge, about running for judge. So, late last year, he moved from his condominium in downtown Raleigh to an apartment in North Raleigh just so he could run in the newly created District 10E.”
Collins is a registered Democrat.
By conducting an FEC search for political campaign contributions, we see that a Bryan Collins in Raleigh who listed his occupation as Public Defender contributed the sum of $500 to the Hagan Senate Committee in 2008.
I’m no lawyer, and I can’t possibly pretend to understand all the technicalities of impartiality. That said, does anyone think it smells a little funny that a Judge known to support one candidate for office would be allowed to try a case involving that candidate’s potential future opposition?”
This article was posted on the Pundit House (http://pundithouse.com/2014/
03/ conflict-of-interest-in-brannon -case/#.UyipN85M9ws.facebook) on March 18th 2014.
Obviously if Judge Collins is a financial contributor to Kay Hagan, then he should not have presided Dr. Greg Brannon’s court case — as he was clearly not able to be unbiased towards her fore-running Republican opponent in the US Senate race. Please work to remedy this situation and help build confidence in the justice of the NC courts system.