Metro judge responds to criticism that they aren’t doing enough to hold repeat offenders

·2 min read

A local superior court judge is responding to criticism that he and his colleagues aren’t doing enough to hold repeat offenders accountable.

The Atlanta Police Department estimates that about 1,000 repeat offenders are committing up to 40% of the crimes in our city.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney is one of the most respected legal minds in this courthouse. He is also a member of the Atlanta Repeat Offender Commission.

Channel 2′s Michael Seiden spoke one-on-one with McBurney inside his courtroom Wednesday where he explained why the crime stats don’t tell the entire story.

“You have some colleagues that presided over roughly more than a dozen cases and did not send one person to prison. What is your response to them?” Seiden asked McBurney. “Every individual comes before a judge has a different background.”

McBurney’s comments come just days after Channel 2 Action News reported the findings of the 2022 Atlanta Repeat Offender Commission report which focused on nearly 900 repeat offenders who accounted for 1,000 felony crimes.


The report also contains a judge’s report card, which shows how each superior court judge handled cases involving repeat offenders.

McBurney is one of the judges named in the report. He’s also a member of the commission.

He said although the data helps keep judges accountable, it doesn’t give us the full story.

“If it turns out that just by the random nature of case assignments that someone who, using your terms, has scored low, not a lot of jail sentences happened to get a lot of nonviolent repeat offenders, and that explains a lot, but it’s not measured that way in the report,” McBurney said.

He said another issue with the report is it fails to distinguish between nonviolent and violent offenders.

“There are some folks that would qualify as a repeat offender that I think many people who came to court for that hearing would say, ‘This is someone who is seriously mentally ill and the fix here is not jail. The fix is connecting this person with resources, so this person doesn’t re-offend,’” McBurney said.

Last week, Channel 2 Action News filed an open records request, seeking the names and charges of the repeat offenders used in the report to get a better idea of what they were convicted of.

We are still waiting on our request.