Was it a set up? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Was it a set up?

May 3, 2006

Sumter County - Defense attorneys for a Superior Court judge on trial for domestic violence claim the accuser made up her story and set up Judge Rucker Smith. Day three of the Sumter County judge's trial began with the cross examination of his former girlfriend. The defense claims she scratched Smith in the face and sent vindictive e-mails.

Attorney Jerry Brimberry says, "I'm going to direct your attention back to the afternoon of July 31st, 2005." That's the day the state's key witness, and alleged victim, 30-year old Rachel Oliver says Judge Rucker Smith became violent after he had several drinks at her home.

Oliver says Smith pushed her off her porch, dragged her down a hallway and even choked her. Brimberry says, "Come over here and show us how you were being choked."

Oliver demonstrates, "As I recall, I was being held down this way with one of his hands around my neck this way. He was holding me down and choking me at the same time."

She says she was finally able to get away and ran inside her house to call 911. The defense hinted that Oliver orchestrated the event and set Rucker Smith up, using an email she wrote almost two months before the night of the fight to demonstrate the point.

In that email she says, "I will see you fail. I wish the worst on you. I'm watching and waiting for my opportunity. Your's is coming."

But Oliver says she wrote the e-mail to further communicate with Smith the way she felt about him. She says, "He asked me point blank would I vote for him when he ran and I told him point blank, no I would not vote for him. I told him that I believed that he was a corrupt judge. I believed that he was then. I believe that he is now."

But whether a jury believes he is guilty of domestic violence remains to be seen.

A former girlfriend of Judge Smith's from more than 20 years ago also took the stand. She says Smith was never violent to her but that he may have a problem with alcohol.

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