11th Circuit rules that Ken Hodges can’t be sued over Phoebe Putney case

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.

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86 comments Add your comment

Jackson

March 11th, 2010
4:45 pm

This is a great example of political abuse by a prosecutor, and exactly why they do not deserve such broad immunity. don’t expect Ken Hodges to develop a sense of ethics if he is elected A.G.

DaveDawg

March 11th, 2010
4:47 pm

Ken Hodges stepped outside the lines of the judicial system in order to harass someone on behalf of a powerful supporter. If this is not an abuse of power, nothing is. And each time false charges were brought against this person, he had to defend himself in court and that costs money. If Ken Hodges is not responsible for retribution, Dougherty County should be on the hook.

I can’t believe he’s running for statewide office. Ken Hodges is a black eye for Democrats and may be more corrupt than Oxendine, which is saying a lot.

Not a Hodges Supporter

March 11th, 2010
5:16 pm

The people in Dougherty County say don’t trust their District Attorney Ken Hodges. That he really is a closet Republican and has only run as a Democrat because Dougherty County is heavily Democratic. Mark Taylor is behind the scenes pushing buttons to get his guy elected. If you didn’t want Mark Taylor why would you want Ken Hodges?

A Hodges Supporter

March 11th, 2010
5:55 pm

The 11th Circuit nor Mark Taylor (though I like the “Big Guy”) are part of any conspiracy – get over it. The dismissal of this complaint shows that Hodges did nothing wrong. Any tom, dick or harry can sue someone – hell I could sue you tomorrow and the complaint would still be there – doesn’t mean I accused you of anything valid and the court would dismiss it – just like they did here.

How can you say this guy is a closet republican out of one mouth, and then out the other say that Mark Taylor is behind the scenes pushing the buttons – is Mark Taylor a closet republican too???

Melissa

March 11th, 2010
6:02 pm

Ken Hodges is a great guy and it is a no brainer that this case was dismissed. The faxes were sent in the thousands and no one could get hospital records in or out because of them – this was a safety issue to those trying to get their hospital care. The 11th circuit knows it and now so does the rest of the state. Hodges is not a career politician, he is a good man who will serve GA well. It is unfortunate that some would try to smear his name to get ahead politically when he did not do anything wrong.

96 SC

March 11th, 2010
6:10 pm

Did the D.A. present the evidence/info to the Grand Jury? Did the D.A. bother to verify the accuracy and honesty of the evidence/info presented to the Grand Jury? If the answer to Query #1 is YES and regardless what the answer to Query #2 is ; then the D.A. should be SUED to HELL and BACK. But the D.A. appears to be some Powerful Politico’s PET or the D.A. is a GOOD OLE BOY willing to continue Corruption in the Courts.

Wayne

March 11th, 2010
6:14 pm

Come on, now — prosecutors, yeah, have a lot of power. But sounds like the ruling says he was doing his job the way he was supposed to. So they’re groundless, right? How does that make him corrupt? More and more Hodges seems like the AG candidate who understands what an AG has to go through . . .

Melissa

March 11th, 2010
6:21 pm

96 SC – 3 words – public safety exception – when people can’t get their hospital records in b/c Bagnato wanted to send 1000s and 1000s of pictures with doctors photo shopped as the kkk trying to send a “message” the hospital cannot operate.

Ruth

March 11th, 2010
6:31 pm

The timing of the first couple of posts makes me think perhaps someone might have given a couple of his buddies a little advanced notice of this post. I’m not saying anyone at the AJC would be biased. No. Wait. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Could we at least make an attempt to appear objective?

No dog in the fight

March 11th, 2010
6:33 pm

Seems like the guy was just doing his job . . .

GA Nick

March 11th, 2010
6:38 pm

Good to see that the courts can sometimes still find their way to protecting and supporting the people. Hodges was clearly acting in the people’s best interest by prosecuting Rehberg & Co. Imagine if he hadn’t? I understand that someone in Hodges’ position will occasionally find himself being targeted by opponents in the courts for simply doing his job well, but I am glad to see that this court was able to see through that and rule in his favor. I agree with Wayne that Hodges increasingly seems like he understands what an AG needs to do.

Tax bibles

March 11th, 2010
7:48 pm

Most of you people don’t know what you’re talking about. I was peripheraly involved, and I shall remain anonymous. “Doctor” Bagnato could pick a fight in an empty room, and Rehberg is his, well, er, let’s say “tool.” They sent anonymous faxes around depicting their business opponents as Klansmen, even though everyone involved is White. Do a little research before you slander people.

Amy Morton

March 11th, 2010
8:19 pm

Is this really over for Hodges? The case against the cheif investigator
moves forward, so doesn’t that now make Hodges a witness? Personally,
I’d rather have an AG candidate who is not tied up in this.

martyr

March 11th, 2010
8:26 pm

But will we ever investigate wrong doing at the “lower” public “service” agencies…. you know those folks abuse consumers, and then complain that we ( the public) don’t get involved in local politics?

Ethics

March 11th, 2010
8:42 pm

This is about ethics, something Ken Hodges seems to lack even if he has been give a pass on the legal technicality called “prosecutorial immunity”. You should really read the full ruling that Mr. Galloway has provided. Nowhere in the entire 40 pages does the 11th Circuit exonerate Ken Hodges. To the contrary, it gives great details of all the unethical things he did to further a false prosecution as a political favor. If you read the ruling, I hardly believe you can seriously defend Ken Hodges. I think the appeals court actually regrets that they can’t touch Hodges legally. While Hodges will escape financial liability, he will soon have to be deposed on what he did. And, the Bar could even choose to investigate on ethical grounds. Remember, Nifong was disbarred for his similar conduct. The fact that Ken Hodges did all this stuff is way more important to Georgia voters than his legal liability to Mr. Rehberg. It would indeed be a sad day for Georgia if a person like Ken Hodges was elected to A.G.

Ronnie

March 11th, 2010
8:43 pm

Albany is a cesspool and once ranked as the murder capital of the USA. Quite an honor. Wonder why? Phoebe is nothing more than a local monopoly trying to bully everyone in the healthcare business in the region. The area is so rotten nobody else wants to go there so they get away with it.

Ronnie is right.

March 11th, 2010
8:54 pm

I am an Albany Refugee. Thomasville is a much better town. Plus, when I see Hodges I think John Edwards.

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

March 11th, 2010
9:20 pm

Anyone who sends thousands of anonymous faxes like a cowardly punk deserves to be prosecuted. Too bad the charges didn’t stick.

hey hey

March 11th, 2010
9:51 pm

Good to hear the slander can end against Hodges. The other campaign was shameful in their spin on this story and I feel bad for the poor saps that signed on hahaha.

“Tax Bibles” aka Todd in Athens

March 11th, 2010
11:57 pm

Todd, you are less anonymous than you think. You are also poorly informed. The so called “KKK” fax you refer to questioned why Phoebe had no senior paid executives in a community where every other major employer does. A valid question, I might add. Your point that all the Phoebe execs are white is EXACTLY the point of that “Phoebe Factoid”. You also need to get over the tax Gov. Perdue has proposed on “non-profit” hospitals like the one that you work for in Athens. Most of the major hospitals (Grady excluded) are flush with cash, while the State is broke. What do the hospitals want? More state money! Perdue is not going to “Tax Bibles” instead, as you suggest.

DirtyDawg

March 12th, 2010
2:17 am

As has been said many times here, it’s gonna be tough enough to beat Sam Olens come November without the ‘baggage-laden’ Ken Hodges on the Dem ticket. Young Mr. Teilhet of Smyrna is our best opportunity to take Sam down and to help Roy Barnes begin to repair the damage of the past eight years.

Someone from Albany

March 12th, 2010
6:47 am

I’m from Albany, and I can tell all of you that Ken Hodges left for good reasons – if he hadn’t, he would have been chased out of town with pitchforks. He was part of a political “team” with the former mayor, Tommy Coleman, and they did whatever they wanted in Albany, GA until they got caught. No, he deserved to get sued, and not only does he deserve to lose money, in my opinion, he should be disbarred and thrown in jail for abuse of power.

Ken Hodges is as slimy as they come, and anybody who votes for him as GA’s AG deserves what they get – someone with their own personal agenda, just like John Oxendine.

Felix

March 12th, 2010
7:34 am

I guess the fact that Hodges took a multi-million dollar job with the hospital he did a “favor” for just gets lost in the shuffle. Ken Hodges is a scumbag who prostituted his office for personal gain, but gets away with it due to the technicality of “governmental immunity”. I note that “Melissa” and some of the other Hodges pumpers/campaign workers posting here wish to divert attention to Rehberg and Bagnato, but if their conduct was really criminal, why did Hodges’ criminal cases against them get thrown out three (3) times? Why did Hodges investigator (Paulk) have to give false testimony against Rehberg and Bagnato to the grand jury, and why is Ken “Silver Spoon” Hodges getting off on a technicality while Paulk gets hung out to dry?

P.S. Anyone ever heard the one about how Hodges nearly killed one of his employees in a one-car collision resulting from his driving too fast in the rain?

Jumbo G is the king of conventional thinking

March 12th, 2010
8:10 am

Ken Hodges is a tool. He is a crook. He is a liar. He is wrong for GA. In fact, he is just right for Albany. So there you go. I have lived all over this state and I think it is safe to say that Albany is more corrupt than Macon and ATL combined. So Sad. As industry leaves Albany in droves, let us look at the past and present democrat leadership. The have done one hack of a job. Wow!

Why is it that Democrat-run cities/states suck so bad? Detroit, New Orleans, Albany……….

lmno

March 12th, 2010
8:39 am

Bottom line is that Ken Hodges used Grand Jury Subpoenas to obtain information when there was no Grand Jury Investigation. Its unethical and shows that Mr. Hodges is willing to side step proceedure if proceedure is in his way.

That may or may not effect your opinion of him, but that is a fact.

Eddie B

March 12th, 2010
9:11 am

Hodges is as corrupt a politician as they come, and it’s a shame he’s “protected” by immunity, powerful cronies and a filthy rich hospital gouging patients in one of America’s poorest congressional districts. Watch how Hodges will leave Paulk twisting in the wind after this decision. The man cares for nothing and no one except himself. Please, Georgia, don’t elect this greasebag!

hey hey

March 12th, 2010
10:16 am

man the teilhet people have nothing better to do than troll the blogs!
hodges is definitely going to win hahah

To Melissa (Hodges?)

March 12th, 2010
10:21 am

Since you don’t seem to understand the 40 page published ruling, ask your professors at John Marshall Law School to explain it to you. Granting Ken Hodges immunity for what he did is a far cry from ruling he didn’t do it. As to fax machines at hospitals, 20 faxes received over 5 months did not shut them down. All we use thoses machines for is ordering tak out food. We use our multimillion dollar computer system for important patient stuff.

Mr. Grumpy

March 12th, 2010
11:37 am

It sounds like Bobby Kahn, who is running Teilhet’s campaign, has got his little people writing in all the blogs about how bad Kenn Hodges is. For those of you who read the 11th circuit court’s ruling the operative term in the claims made by the defendants in the criminal proceedings against Hodges is “alleged.” These things were “alleged” to have occurred, not proven that they ocurred. If I were you, I’d be more worried about the fact that Rob Teilhet would associate himself with a snake like Bobby Kahn. If you want the truth about an issue, don’t go to Bobby Kahn to get it.

Someone from Albany

March 12th, 2010
11:53 am

I have no idea who “Teilhet” is…I DO know who Ken Hodges is from personal experience. Do YOU? It has nothing to do with just “associating” or surrounding yourself with questionable people but actively participating with them, as well as protecting them in his official capacity. This is precisely what Ken Hodges does. This is his history as a long-term District Attorney in Albany, GA. Giving him the entire State of Georgia as his playground? Anyone who agrees to do this is either nuts or in his pocket. In either case, Lord help us all.

Disbar Hodges?

March 12th, 2010
1:05 pm

I understand that Ken Hodges did what is alleged, but can’t legally be touched due to “immunity”. That is kinda like a diplomat can murder someone, but not be prosecuted for it. The diplomat is still a murderer, but he won’t be punished for his crimes. Isn’t this just like that? I don’t think lawyer ethics rules allow for immunity, do they? Why can’t the Bar just disbar Hodges for doing this stuff? If Hodges were actually elected atty. general, then disbarred, would he have to step down?

Felix

March 12th, 2010
1:31 pm

I ask again: Has anyone ever heard the story about how Hodges was driving too fast in the rain, had a single car accident that led to his vehicle overturning and nearly killing his passenger (one of his employees)?

He didn’t get charged for driving “too fast for conditions” as one of us peasants would have. The silver spoon has its privileges.

Melissa

March 12th, 2010
2:05 pm

Hodges did not do anything wrong. The court said that Hodges would not be protected if he fabricated or planted evidence or if he was acting outside of his role as prosecutor. He did not act outside of his role as prosecutor and therefore, even with alleging all the facts as true, which the court must do during a request to dismiss the charges, he acted within the bounds of his role as a prosecutor.

Hodges will be a great Attorney General and I am proud to support him.

Also, there are millions of people named Melissa in America – it is has been in the top 10 baby names for many years. The people who obviously have this intense hatred for Ken believe in many conspiracies, not the least of which include that anyone named Melissa who supports Ken Hodges must be his wife.

Melissa

March 12th, 2010
2:07 pm

Conspiracy theorists NOT for Hodges!! Just another reason he has my vote! :)

Jackson

March 12th, 2010
4:06 pm

Note that Melissa did not actually deny she is Ken Hodges wife…
Anyway, what the ruling actually says is that everything alleged by Mr. Rehberg is taken as TRUE, and Hodges nevertheless can’t be touched due to “immunity”. I think would be be helpful would be for Hodges to admit or deny the various acts alleged in the complaint. Then we can all compare it to the sworn deposition which I am sure must be coming soon.

Sebastian

March 12th, 2010
5:28 pm

Appellate courts ALWAYS take plaintiffs’ allegations as “true,” even if they aren’t. Otherwise those courts wouldn’t take any cases at all.

Melissa

March 12th, 2010
5:52 pm

Really? I guess my whole “conspiracy theory” comments did not get through.

Hi. My name is Melissa. I am not Ken Hodges wife, who also has the name Melissa. By the way, Dave Dawg is not a real name, nor is Mr. Grumpy.

Ken Hodges acted properly and the case did not hold any bearing.

For some the truth and reality are hard pills to swallow.

Especially during campaign season!!

Maureen

March 12th, 2010
5:53 pm

Let me get this straight: the 11th circuit court evaluated the facts of the case, the law, heard from both sides, and decided Hodges was doing his job. According to the court he did nothing wrong. The character attacks above now range from Ken Hodges, to his wife, to the community hospital, to the local police, to the courts in Albany, and all the way to the 11th circuit. Sounds like political smear tactics…

Jimmy

March 12th, 2010
6:43 pm

Melissa writes that Hodges “acted properly,” but the following is not in question:

1) Hodges’ investigator lied to the grand jury to get the indictment Hodges wanted;
2) This criminal case brought by Hodges against two innocent men was thrown out three (3) separate times;
3) Hodges wife worked for the hospital he was “doing a favor for” when he brought the false charges;
4) Hodges resigned his elected office to take a high-paying job with this same hospital; and
5) Hodges campaign finance disclosures are littered with donations from this same hospital.

Tell me, Melissa, what here is “proper” for an elected official. Clearly, you have spent so much time with filth such as Ken Hodges that your own sense of morals and ethics has become perverted.

Melissa

March 13th, 2010
12:29 am

The only person who I see acting without morals and unethical right now is you. Read the 11th circuit report it said that IF Hodges had fabricated or planted evidence (fabrication means lying, making stories up, etc – since you must not have made the connection) he would NOT have immunity.

The 11th Circuit looked at all the facts and said that he had immunity and the case was dismissed. Therefore, he did NOT fabricate evidence or lie. What do you not understand?

Hodges did not lie, Hodges recused himself from the case after 1) the public safety threat was gone and 2) Bagnato blew out of proportion the fact that his wife was a low to mid level employee at the hospital that employees thousands and thousands of people.

Hodges left the hospital years later and people in Albany like Hodges – it is not a conspiracy that people from his home town would donate money to his campaign.

As for your personal attack on me – since that is what your argument has come down to – it really just shows how weak your argument is and that you did not know all the facts to begin with.

wild one

March 13th, 2010
7:42 am

As a long time resident of Albany I am glad to see that Hodges is gone as our DA.

Felix

March 13th, 2010
8:50 am

Melissa, you clearly didn’t read the court’s order or, much like Ken Hodges, you are deliberately trying to distort the truth. This case is going forward on the issue of Hodges’ investigator lying to the grand jury. Hodges got off on the technicality of immunity. The court did NOT find that Hodges did nothing wrong.

It’s extremely hard for me to believe that Investigator Jim Paulk woke up one morning and, on his own, decided to give false testimony to a grand jury—especially since testimony has already been given that Hodges told Paulk “we’re doing a favor” for Phoebe.

You also seem oblivious of the fact that the criminal case allegedly brought because of the “public safety threat” was thrown out three (3) different times. This, in itself, speaks volumes about the quality of the case and the facts you (wrongly) claim justified its being brought by Hodges.

Also, you are apparently ignorant of the fact that one of the charges brought by Hodges against Rehberg was that of a burglary that did not take place. For you to state that this does not constitute a “fabrication” is deliberately deceitful and intellectually dishonest–even for a Ken Hodges cheerleader.

By the way, care to comment about Kenny-boy’s driving record and why he didn’t get charged with reckless driving when he almost killed his co-worker by driving too fast in the rain and hydroplaning into oncoming traffic on 75 near Cordele, endangering dozens of other drivers on the highway? Let me guess, it’s someone else’s fault, not poor little rich boy Kenny. Traffic laws are for peasants. The silver spoon has its privileges.

Melissa

March 13th, 2010
12:12 pm

I did read the 11th circuit’s opinion as I talked about exactly what was said. You are the one who is trying to distort the truth. The court said if he had fabricated or planted any evidence that would be outside his scope as D.A., plus if he acted outside his role as D.A. he would not have immunity.

The Court then said he acted inside the bounds of his immunity – meaning he did not fabricate evidence or act outside his role of D.A. – read it for yourself – going back and forth after you clearly did not read the document and then telling me that I did not is getting old. Go back to working on the opposing campaign and trying to bridge conspiracy theories elsewhere.

The people of Georgia don’t need some political hack feeding bs down their throat. It is fairly apparent that you 1) work for another campaign 2) are trying to distort the facts 3) don’t even use your first real name. I know that people in the legislature can’t raise money right now, but please find something else to do than troll political insider.

Melissa

March 13th, 2010
12:16 pm

Hodges while D.A., brought convictions against criminals for crimes against children to almost 100%. When he began, the conviction rate of molestors and violent offenders to children in Albany was less that 50% (1996). He worked hard to protect all the children in Albany and children in the area are safer because of his hard work.

Georgia needs an Attorney General that is going to work hard to make children safer in Georgia and that is just one of the reasons I am voting for Ken Hodges.

Jimmy

March 13th, 2010
12:19 pm

Ken Hodges has never had a job in his life that wasn’t paid for by:

a) his family;
b) the taxpayer; or
c) the people he sold out to.

Ken Hodges is a fraud and a disgrace and is not worthy of public office.

Melissa

March 13th, 2010
12:36 pm

Ken Hodges was a great District Attorney in Albany, GA for 12 years. Many people work in the DA’s office to defend our liberties and protect our freedoms. People like Dekalb’s Sheriff Thomas Brown endorsed Ken Hodges because he knows first hand that Ken is someone who fights public corruption.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t attack those on the taxpayer’s pay roll. Teachers, policeman, firefighters, judges, and state legislators all have a job due to hardworking Georgia citizens.

Ken Hodges is a great guy, honest, trustworthy and his own actions speak for themselves – so no matter how much you try to smear his name with conspiracies – it is obvious that they do not hold weight in a court of law, nor will they in the court of public opinion.

He has protected the children of Albany and he will work to continue to protect all Georgians. Bringing the conviction rate against people who want to hurt children to almost 100% when it was below 50% when he began as District Attorney is huge. It shows where his priorities are and that he means what he says when he says he is going to keep families safe.

Frank

March 13th, 2010
1:56 pm

Seems Melissa needs to chill, or are we to believe that anyone and everyone who questions Ken Hodges record is somehow lying.
Well Melissa i’m afraid you have your work is cut out for you, from what i’ve read this case will go on and there will be other opportunities for your writing skills in the future.
Get some rest, you’ll need the energy.

Melissa

March 13th, 2010
4:02 pm

Frank,

I don’t think that everyone who questions another person’s record is lying, but it is clear in this case that there have been an overt exaggeration based on political reasons instead of looking for the truth.

I will defend Ken Hodges or any person that is being unjustly attacked. Thank you for acknowledging my work and dedication and I look forward to helping Hodges get elected in November.

Jumbo G is the king of conventional thinking

March 13th, 2010
4:37 pm

Ken Hodges prolly roofed the future Mrs. Kill-Hodges while she was on assignment to cover the drug ring that was being run out of an Albany night club in the late 90’s…. in which the detestable Hodges aka “Phoebe’s Butt Boy” was a silent partner. Hodges used to drive like a bat out of hell over town. He is one of those I am above the law and well connected types. The guy is actually a tool. The best thing to happen to Albany was when he got ambitious and left. I wish he and MArk Taylor would just leave public life. Roy Barnes, Mark Taylor and Little Kenny. My god it is like some sick Napoleonic return from exile. Please, just go way.

Jimmy

March 13th, 2010
5:31 pm

Yes, Jumbo, Kenny boy has a long history of getting in trouble while in automobiles. The silver spoon has its privileges.