The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this afternoon that former Dougherty County prosecutor Ken Hodges can’t be sued by an Albany accountant who said he was wrongly prosecuted for his criticism of a local hospital system.
However, the court ruled that a federal lawsuit against Hodges’ chief investigator, James Paulk, could proceed. Paulk allegedly gave false grand jury evidence that led to the arrest of Charles Rehberg on charges of aggravated assault, burglary, and six counts of “harassing phone calls.”
The 11th Circuit ruling has political significance: Hodges is now a Democratic candidate for attorney general, to replace incumbent Thurbert Baker.
“I’m gratified by the court’s decision, and I look forward to continuing my public service to the people of Georgia,” Hodges said.
Rehberg and surgeon Dr. John Bagnato were indicted by a local grand jury on three occasions. All charges that stemmed from their sending of anonymous faxes that were critical of the Phoebe Putney Health System to business and political leaders in Albany.
After the hospital system asked Hodges to investigate, he used grand jury subpoenas to acquire phone records that led to Rehberg, even though no grand jury was investigating the case at the time. A judge dismissed the criminal charges each time.
Click here to read the 40-page ruling by the 11th Circuit.
For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.