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Georgia Court of Appeals judge suspended with pay

The Georgia Supreme Court suspended state Court of Appeals Judge Christian Coomer with pay Wednesday after the former Georgia lawmaker was charged with misconduct.

Coomer, a Republican, served in the Georgia House of Representatives for eight years until he was appointed to the state’s second highest court in 2018. The charges stem from an investigation launched last year into allegations that Coomer defrauded an elderly client while working as a private attorney.

Jim Fihart, 78, of Cartersville, claimed he loaned $159,000 to Coomer’s holding company in March of 2018 with the promise that the money would be paid back in a year, according to published reports. However, the promissory note that was written said it was to be paid off in 30 years when Fihart would be well into his 100s.

The note listed Fihart’s property as security of the debt should it not be paid off.

Coomer has said the property discrepancy was an unintentional mistake made when writing the document. He also offered to correct the error when it was drawn to his attention.

Coomer borrowed another $130,000 later in 2018, again through his holding company. This second loan was to be paid off when Fihart would have turned 84, and was also unsecured.

Fihart alleges Coomer should have known he was impaired and unable to make reasonable decisions. Coomer argues that it wasn’t until 2019 that Fihart suggested that he was somehow impaired.

Following an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission charged Coomer late last month with 26 violations of the state Code of Judicial Conduct. Coomer has denied all of the allegations.

Under the state Supreme Court’s order, Coomer will be suspended with pay pending a final determination of the judicial commission’s proceeding against him.

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