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Chattooga judge admits illegally charging fees

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(Times Free Press) - The Chattooga County State Court judge has announced that he no longer will take defendants' money for "court costs" in cases that are not being tried, an illegal practice that admittedly he has been doing for years.

Sam Finster said he made the decision Aug. 19 after a Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter showed him Georgia law that states charging "court costs" on such cases is illegal.

"After I talked with you," he said Tuesday, "I did some research."

Before the change, Finster and State Solicitor Sanford "Buddy" Hill said, this is how the process worked: If the arresting officer decided he didn't want the case tried, and the defendant agreed to pay court costs, Hill would present this agreement to Finster. This often happened when victims said that they would not help the prosecution.

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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