A Tallapoosa Circuit superior court judge has been cleared of accusations that he hit his wife during an altercation in February after a Haralson County grand jury declined to indict him.
Superior Court Judge Meng Lim was arrested on July 2 and charged with one count of misdemeanor battery under the Family Violence Act following an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Lim, who resides in Haralson County, voluntarily stepped down temporarily from his duties as chief superior court judge of the Tallapoosa Circuit, which comprises Polk and Haralson counties, and superior court judge Mark Murphy assumed his duties on July 13.
The case was presented to the Haralson County grand jury on Friday, July 31, with the convened panel returning a “no bill” in the case following deliberation, declining to formally indict Lim on any charges.
During the course of the GBI’s investigation, it was determined that on Feb. 17, the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office received a telephone call concerning an allegation of physical domestic abuse involving Lim.
The investigation also indicated that on Feb. 16 Lim’s wife contacted a friend, who lives in Bremerton, Washington, and told her about being hit multiple times by Lim during an argument. Lim’s wife also sent her friend pictures of her face showing bruising and scratching.
District Attorney Jack Browning, whose office reviewed the case and set out to seek an indictment, reported as part of a press release that the wife’s correspondence with her friend was done by text message. However, the wife later recanted and denied the initial version of the incident and said the physical altercation was, instead, between her and Lim’s teenage daughter.
Lim stated his involvement was only to break up the fight, but that he might have hit his wife in the process. During their interviews, both Lim and his daughter denied knowing how the wife received the injuries that shown in the photos.
Lim’s attorney, Robert G. Rubin, said in a separate statement that Lim also passed a polygraph test in which he was asked if he ever intentionally caused physical harm to his wife. Rubin stated the grand jury never got to hear about the polygraph or defense counsel’s interviews during the nearly six-hour presentation.
Rubin stated that Lim is grateful to the grand jurors “for conscientiously considering all of the evidence,” and to his many supporters for “their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
“He looks forward to the time when he can continue serving the citizens of the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit,” Rubin said.
It is unclear when Lim will be able to resume his duties. The Tallapoosa Circuit, along with the rest of the state, is under a judicial emergency order by Chief Justice Harold Melton of the Georgia Supreme Court that is keeping all new judicial activity postponed until at least after Aug. 11, although the order could be extended as it has been since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Browning stated that he was “somewhat surprised” by the grand jury’s decision in his release, but that he respects it.
“Accordingly, at this time, our office will consider this matter concluded and our file closed,” Browning stated in the release.
He added that his office presented every piece of evidence turned over by the GBI to the grand jury, as well as had them listen to interviews with several of the people involved and the testimony of a domestic violence expert, spoke about why domestic violence victims often reverse their allegations.
“The grand jury had absolutely everything before them so they could make an informed judgment about whether the case should be indicted and proceed to a jury trial — absolutely nothing was kept from the grand jury,” he said in the release.