UPDATE: Former judge Bryant Cochran found guilty of all charges

Bryant Cochran

UPDATE: Angela Garmley says she feels vindicated and believes justice was served Thursday after a federal jury found former Murray County Magistrate Bryant Cochran guilty on all six criminal charges against him.

She describes herself as a recovering meth addict. Her lawyers say the former judge used Garmley's addiction to try and discredit her.

It started back in July 2012 when Garmley brought allegations against Cochran for trying to solicit sex in his chambers. After Garmley filed the complaint, she says Cochran tried to frame her by planting meth under her car.

“People who have issues, who have addictions are often more vulnerable. They're targeted more for abuses of officials,” Garmley's Attorney McCracken Poston said.

A sheriff's captain, deputy and friend of Cochran all pleaded guilty in connection to the set up and are serving time in prison. Cochran resigned in August of 2012 after investigators discovered he'd been pre-signing warrants.

“It also gives a message to police officers, judges and all public officials. No one is above the law here,” Poston said.

Garmley's lawyer Stuart James says the verdict also speaks volumes to those throughout the community.

“I think this message is not only important for people of Murray County because they now know as individuals no matter where they're from, can stand up to public officials and they now know the United States government will stand up against public corruption and now hold people accountable,” James said.

Cochran will be sentenced on February 20th in US District Court.

Channel 3 reached out to Cochran's lawyer, our phone calls went unreturned.

Cochran is also charged with violating the civil rights of two other woman who worked in this office.


UPDATE: A jury has convicted Former Murray County Magistrate Bryant Cochran an all federal charges, including witness tampering.

The jury began their deliberation late Wednesday, and arrived at their verdict Thursday afternoon.

Stay with Channel 3 and WRCBtv.com for more on this developing story.

PREVIOUS STORY: Former chief magistrate Bryant Cochran was arraigned Thursday on multiple federal charges including witness tampering.  Cochran entered not guilty pleas on all six charges against him.

Angela Garmley and her husband, Joe Garmley, sued Cochran for soliciting sex from Angela Garmley in his chambers.

Cochran is also accused in the creation of a drug-planting scheme to get her arrested, according to their lawsuit.   

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Cochran was released on his own recognizance. 

PREVIOUS STORY: After a two year investigation, a former Murray County magistrate judge has been federally indicted. Channel 3 broke the story in July 2012 when sexual allegations were brought against Bryant Cochran and we continued following the fallout, after he tried to frame his accuser.    

The attorney representing Angela Garmley says at first, he did not expect much to come from her sexual allegations, mainly because of judicial immunity laws in Georgia. But judge Bryant Cochran decided to retaliate, framing Garmley with meth possession and having her arrested.

"Had judge Cochran just simply walked away, none of this would have come forward," says attorney McCracken Poston.

McCracken Poston represents Angela Garmley, who claims in 2012 then-magistrate judge Bryant Cochran told her that he would rule in her favor on a case if she came to his office in a dress without underwear.

"If you were a female, you got a different treatment than males did in that court, apparently," says Poston.

Garmley went public. In the midst of a judicial probe, investigators discovered Cochran had been pre-signing warrants. Cochran resigned in August 2012 citing the warrants, not Garmley's accusations, as the reason.

"He's actually tried to take that back, recently. He's now saying he didn't resign because of the pre-signed warrants, because when someone, I guess, informed him that that was a felony as well, he decided that maybe he shouldn't be taking that position."

The day before Cochran resigned, deputies arrested Garmley and a friend when they found meth in a magnet container, stuck under her car. The GBI and FBI found it was a set-up. A sheriff's captain, deputy, and friend of Cochran all pleaded guilty and are serving time in prison.

Now a federal grand jury has handed down an indictment on Cochran for six counts, including conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, tampering with a witness and violating a person's constitutional rights.

"We look forward to watching him avail himself of all of the rights and privileges guaranteed under our system of justice, the very rights and privileges that he tried to deny my clients," says Poston.

Separate civil suits have been filed as well, not only from Angela Garmley, but also from three other women who worked in Cochran's office.

Bryant Cochran is being arraigned in federal court in Rome Thursday.