Viewpoint: Did Judge Blitch get off too easy?

Federal prosecutors spent years, and no telling how much money, investigating a long-time South Georgia judge.

They suspected he was overstepping his authority and essentially running a criminal enterprise. But when it came time to make him pay, they backed down.

Last week, prosecutors let former Clinch County Superior Court Judge Brooks Blitch plead guilty to one count of Honest Service Fraud Conspiracy. They agreed to drop more than a dozen other charges. Worse yet, they agreed to let him avoid any prison time.

Blitch was at the center of a wide-ranging corruption investigation that ended up bringing down numerous other officials. Prosecutors put pressure on them to give information about Blitch.

He was clearly the man prosecutors were after, but they apparently decided his resignation last year after 28 years on the bench was punishment enough.

We disagree. Of all people, judges must be held to the highest ethical and legal standards. If he broke the law, he should go to prison. At the very least, prosecutors should have taken their chances, taken their case to a jury, and forced Blitch to defend himself.

Maybe Judge Blitch would have gotten off. Maybe he would have been convicted. We'll never know. All we know now is that he got off easy.