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Judge goes on trial

Judge Rucker Smith Judge Rucker Smith
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May 1, 2006

Sumter County - The trial of a Superior Court Judge, accused of domestic violence is underway in Sumter County. Jury selection began Monday in the case of Rucker Smith who's charged with battery and simple battery.

The Courtroom sat empty while those summoned for jury duty were excused for an hour long lunch. As of the break at 12:20PM, only five potential jurors had been interviewed during the individual Voir Dire process.

Southwestern Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge Rucker Smith is accused of striking his former girlfriend, Rachel Oliver during a fight July 31st. Oliver told authorities Smith pushed her down, threw her off the porch, then later dragged her before she was able to run away.

Smith told police he did not hit Oliver. He has been a judge since 1993 and says he has been tough on domestic violence offenders.

Smith is charged with one count of battery and two counts of simple battery, all misdemeanors. That puts the case in state court, where a trial only requires a six person jury.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission wanted to suspend Judge Rucker Smith until the outcome of his trial. A deal was met, that put off the hearing until after the trial, as Smith would be preparing for his case.

Richard T. Kent, a State Court Judge from Moultrie is hearing the case. Sumter State Judge Russ Barnes recused himself. Jury selection could last until Tuesday.

According to the Georgia Constitution, if convicted, the Judicial Qualifications Committee could suspend, or remove Smith from office, or otherwise discipline him.

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