Formal accusations have been filed against Tallapoosa Circuit Chief Judge Meng Lim for willful misconduct and conduct detrimental to the administration of justice.
The state Judicial Qualifications Commission filed the charges on July 22 with the Georgia Supreme Court, accusing Lim of 16 separate violations of the state Code of Judicial Conduct.
These charges stem from accusations related to Lim allegedly having a romantic relationship with a former Polk County Court Clerk’s Office employee, and using his influence and personal relationship with a participant in the Tallapoosa Circuit Drug Court program to get him preferred treatment.
Lim, who began practicing law in 1998, was voted into office as superior court judge in July 2014 and began to serve in January 2015. He is the first elected Asian American superior court judge in the state of Georgia. He was reelected to a second term in 2018.
Proceedings held by the commission, which investigates complaints against judges, are private and not subject to the Georgia Open Records Act until they are officially filed with the high court.
The results of those investigations are only made public if there is action taken against a judge — such as a reprimand or charges filed. Lim has until Aug. 14 to respond to the accusations.
According to the filing with the state Supreme Court, an investigation by the JQC began last year after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigated a report of a domestic violence situation involving Lim’s family in Haralson County.
Lim was arrested on July 2, 2020, and charged with misdemeanor battery under the Family Violence Act, but a Haralson County grand jury failed to indict him on the charges.
The JQC filing states that information discovered during the GBI investigation into the domestic violence allegations led to further investigation of Lim by the commission’s investigative panel.
On March 19, Lim appeared before the JQC investigative panel and reportedly made false and misleading statements, contradicting the account of others in regard to the events in question, leading to the commission filing formal charges.
The panel concluded that Lim had a romantic relationship with Erika Hernandez, who worked for the Polk County Court Clerk’s Office from 2007 to 2018, where she was a Spanish language interpreter.
Lim offered Hernandez a position as his personal court interpreter. At the same time they had a personal relationship, which led to her eventually moving in with him after his wife left him.
Also, Lim was personally acquainted with Darrell Hill and his family but failed to make drug court staff aware of this relationship until after Hill had been accepted into and was an active participant in the drug court program in November 2016.
During his time in the program, Hill mentioned his relationship with Lim during group sessions and doing work for him at his house and a restaurant he owned in Haralson County.
Lim contacted program staff to get Hill out of a required counseling session to allow him to continue work at his restaurant.
He then held a meeting in his chambers with Hill and the drug court staff after Hill failed to show up for a drug screening and two positive drug screens.