Cobb Police bust teen drinking party at judge's upscale west Cobb home
by Kim Isaza
kisaza@mdjonline.com
February 13, 2010 01:00 AM | 16301 views | 281 281 comments | 382 382 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ten teenagers were given citations for underage drinking at the home of Cobb lawyer and Woodstock municipal court judge Diane Busch after Cobb Police, responding to reports of gunshots, discovered the early morning party.<br>Photo by Thinh D. Nguyen
Ten teenagers were given citations for underage drinking at the home of Cobb lawyer and Woodstock municipal court judge Diane Busch after Cobb Police, responding to reports of gunshots, discovered the early morning party.
Photo by Thinh D. Nguyen
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WEST COBB - A special prosecutor has been brought in to determine whether Cobb lawyer and Woodstock municipal judge Diane Busch will face charges after Cobb Police, responding to a report of gunshots in the area, discovered a teenage drinking party at her upscale home near Marietta Country Club.

Four teenagers over age 17 and six juveniles were given citations for underage drinking after police arrived at Busch's home around 3 a.m. Dec. 22. Four Cobb Police officers - Sgt. T.W. Jennings and Officers S. Walton, D.A. Ryan, and E.F. Ainsworth - responded to the scene. A neighbor, who had attended an adult Christmas party at the home earlier in the evening, said the teens are students at the prestigious Walker School in Marietta.

Solicitor General Barry Morgan's office usually prosecutes misdeameanor offenses, such as minors in possession of alcohol. Morgan said that in such cases, authorities always try to determine where and how the minors got the alcohol. Morgan said he recused his office in this case and asked for an outside prosecutor because one of his assistant solicitors attended the Christmas party at the home earlier in the evening.

Weeks after the incident, Cobb Police were still interviewing witnesses. No charges have been filed against Busch.

Her defense lawyer, Vic Reynolds, a well-known Marietta attorney, disputes that his client ever provided alcohol to anyone under age 21, or allowed teenagers to drink alcohol on her property. However, the police report notes that when she came downstairs to talk to the officers, she appeared to be intoxicated and "said something to the effect 'I would rather have the kids drinking at my house than out driving around,' and 'I gave the kids the alcohol.'"

The police report notes that Busch was upstairs asleep when police arrived.

The special prosecutor is Lalaine Briones, an attorney with the Atlanta-based Prosecuting Attorneys Council. She is scheduled to meet with Cobb Police next week, Cobb Police Chief G.B. Hatfield said.

About 3 a.m. on Dec. 22, Cobb Police were dispatched to the neighborhood, off of Stilesboro Road in west Cobb, after a neighbor reported hearing what sounded like gunshots.

Upon investigating, police found lots of popped balloons in Busch's driveway, and an officer knocked on the door of her Hazeltine Lane home. Another officer checking the back of the house could see beer bottles and cans on a ping-pong table and in the hands of "numerous young looking individuals," according to the police report.

An officer then encountered a youth on the home's deck and asked if there were any adults home and for him to summon them, according to the police report.

Kathryn Middleton then appeared at the door and "appeared intoxicated," according to the police report. Middleton is a friend and neighbor of Busch's, and one of Middleton's children was also at the home.

"Officer Ryan asked if [Middleton] could get the homeowner and she responded by asking us why we were there," and officers explained about the report of gunshots, according to the report.

"I asked Ms. Middleton if she knew how old the individuals located in the basement were. Ms. Middleton stated that most of the kids went to the Walker School," the report states.

Middleton returned a few minutes later with Busch, the homeowner, "who also seemed to be very intoxicated," according to the report. "She seemed to not comprehend and continued to ask why we were there. Our presence was explained to her multiple times. ... Ms. Busch stated that she had hosted an adult party earlier and that when it was over she went to bed. She stated that some of the children who had come with their parents were supposed to stay the night."

Busch allowed police to enter her home, where they began talking to the teenagers, according to the police report.

"Mrs. Busch advised she had just woken up and seemed to be agitated at what she observed in the basement, stating 'you damn kids'," the report states.

"When Mrs. Busch came down to the basement her speech was slurred," one officer noted in the report. "Ms. Busch was very unstable on her feet as she staggered toward us. Ms. Busch repeatedly asked why the police were present at her residence."

"Ms. Busch accompanied me while checking the upstairs portion of the residence where there were young children sleeping," the report states. "I located three additional underage subjects that had been drinking. One ... was hiding in a walk-in attic space. The other two subjects were found in a bedroom fully clothed and lying in a bed."

State Sen. John Wiles, a Kennesaw Republican, arrived at Busch's home while the police were talking to the teenagers in the basement and using Alco sensors to check for alcohol consumption, according to the police report.

Busch's teenage son tested clean and was not cited, Reynolds said.

Busch, who was recently reappointed as an associate municipal judge in Marietta and has filled in as a Cobb State Court judge in recent years, is an attorney in Wiles' law firm, Wiles & Wiles, in Marietta. And Wiles also lives in the Marietta Country Club community, where homes are currently listed for sale for more than $1 million.

According to the police report, Wiles "stated that he had come to assist Mrs. Busch. Mrs. Busch made it known that Mr. Wiles was a former Cobb County prosecutor and is [now] a state senator. Mrs. Busch had also stated that she was a traffic court judge in Woodstock."

Although Wiles is a Walker School parent, the report did not indicate if one of his children were at the party.

The police report also notes that Wiles commented that one of the youths should not be charged because he was going to college on an athletic scholarship, which would be jeopardized by a citation.

"I then had Mr. Wiles meet with me off to the side where I advised him that there would be no picking and choosing on who would be charged and who would not," Sgt. T.W. Jennings wrote in his report.

"A few moments later I overheard Mrs. Busch ask from across the room if we were really going to cite all of the kids. When one of the Officers answered yes, she stated that 'she had allowed it.' Mr. Wiles was quick to tell Ms. Busch to be quiet."

After police cited the teenagers and turned them over to their parents, Officer S. Walton realized one of the juveniles was unaccounted for. Although Busch stated that the teen had left with a parent, police called the teen's mother, who said the teen was not at home and was now very concerned, according to the report.

"Officer Ryan and I checked throughout the house again looking for [the teen]. While walking down the stairs, Ms. Busch told us to get out of her house. Sgt. Jennings came into the living room and asked what was going on. Ms. Busch stated that she was going to call Chief Hatfield and Mickey Lloyd if we didn't leave. She also stated that we didn't want that P.R. Sgt. Jennings advised her she could call them if she wished because we were only doing our jobs. We left Ms. Busch's house after not locating [the teen] inside the residence," the police report states.

Sgt. Jennings' report notes: "Ms. Busch advised that she had open up her home to us but now she wanted us out. Mrs. Busch had been present when contact had been made [with the teen's] mother and she knew the juvenile was missing. She also stated that she was going to call Mickey Lloyd and Chief Hatfield. I advised her twice that she could call them now if she wished."

The teen, it turned out, had walked home and was safe.

Officer E. Ainsworth wrote in the report that while he was issuing a citation, Busch "came down from the upstairs area and asked 'do you have to write these kids citations?' I am familiar with Ms. Busch, I have worked with her when she was a solicitor for the Cobb County State Court. Ms. Busch state to me she was currently a Judge for the City of Woodstock and 'the person assisting you all is Senator Wiles.' Judge Busch stated she had a Christmas party this evening with friends and some other people from the Cobb District Attorney's Office. She stated there were some Cobb Police Officer present as well. Judge Busch asked 'Do you know Marshall Duling and his wife Torre?'"

Duling is a Cobb Police sergeant and day-shift supervisor over Precint 4, in east Cobb.

Officer Ainsworth noted in his report that he asked Wiles how the teens had arrived at Busch's home, and Wiles "stated their parents were at the party earlier and had left their child to sleep over when they left. Several of the parents who were called to the scene to pick up their children were unaware that their child was at the location further advising that they had not attended the earlier party."

"Several years prior (2001 to 2005), I was at the same location on a similar incident regarding under age drinking," Ainsworth's report states.

Cobb Police Chief Hatfield said this week: "It's an open investigation. Anytime that we as a police department have a report for something like this - underage people drinking in our county - it is a very big concern. That is why we have investigated this and have done a very extensive investigation. They have interviewed numerous people, they have talked to a lot of people, they've looked at a lot of things that would clear up any questions."

The police report was obtained via an Open Records Request to Morgan's office.

"I want the citizens here to feel like this was looked at by somebody who doesn't have a dog in this fight and let the chips fall where they may," Morgan said.

In any case where there are minors in possession of alcohol, where they got the alcohol is always an issue, he said. His office offers a diversion program for first-time offenders charged with shoplifting, alcohol possession or possession of marijuana. The charge is generally dropped if they complete community service and stay out of trouble.

Cobb Police refused to release their report file, arguing that Georgia law prohibits such release in cases where minors are charged. David Hudson, a lawyer for the Georgia Press Association, said the code the police were referring to relates to records kept in juvenile court, not police incident reports.

Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques acknowledged this week that he and the city were aware the Busch was being investigated by the police and a special prosecutor.

As for whether the Woodstock City Council will take any action, he said: "We're not doing anything at this time because we want it to play itself out legally," and added that because it's a personnel issue, he could not go into further detail.

Reynolds, Busch's lawyer, said his client agreed she may have made some bad judgement calls that night, but did not provide alcohol to minors nor permit them to drink in her home.

"If there's any conflicts between her statements and the police, hopefully the investigation will remedy that. I would hope they've realized, as we've said all along, that she's committed no criminal offense," Reynolds said.

Reporters Marcus Howard and Kristal Dixon contributed to this report.
Comments
(281)
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walker 8th grader
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August 10, 2010
the parents most definitely messed up. they are an extreme case of how most walker parents act. most are very down to earth and are meerely trying to get their kids a good education. However there are some parents like the bushes and middletons who do spoil their kids quite a bit and use the school for bragging, but deep at heart they put their kids their for a good education. everyone makes mistakes but they arent always such bad mistakes. all of them are embarased, but the rest of us don't enjoy being stereotyped for example many walker kids take the college SAT in 7th grade! and last year a highschooler got a perfect score on his. Although somepeople are rotten eggs that doesnt mean the rest of us. So please have class when accusing people and please dont judge the rest of us too harshly. Im not saying what they did is okay or excusable but dont punish the rest of us for what they did.
Hypocrite-Hater
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April 09, 2010
Good ole' boys network strikes again! What disgusting corruption. Little piggies rooting through garbage. So, the judge has since resigned. Good. Hope your life is ruined. And Wiles ... your career is OVER. Haha! Bunch of disgusting, self-righteous snobs.
Bill Pepper
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February 26, 2010
Didn't you all read the article it said there were 18 kids, 8 didn't drink. Yes we at the Walker school do receive a very good education from very gifted teachers, doesn't mean we're a bunch of drunken snobs. Why are we all being judged by the standard set by others? I was new this year and I was welcomed by the students better than I could have imagined, even the seniors are kind to me. When you decide to give a verdict on a group based on the bad choices of a few, you're forgetting you don't know who or what you're talking about. Oh and all of you signing under false names like "jack frost" why don't you use your name so we know who thinks poorly of us.
grandma123
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February 26, 2010
i have an idea for everyone out there....

STOP talking about this. If an incident does not involve you, then you should not care or put your thought in it. Walker has nothing to do with this, and neither do hakf of you people. This could happen anywhere. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND GROW UP
Come Again?
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February 24, 2010
I see nothing wrong with holding these people responsible for the actions. The laws on underage drinking ARE set in stone, people...
realwalkerstudent
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February 24, 2010
TO: Walker "Student" -Feb 17 3:22 and

Ex-Walker Parent Feb 23 9:14 PM

I'm ACTUALLY a senior at The Walker School and have attended school there for over ten years. The person who made that post on Feb 17 is NOT a Walker senior. In a class of 104, we know who everyone is. NOTHING they said in their comments were true. Walker has a hell ton of problems, and none of those listed in the comments were accurate. A real Walker student could have come up with valid examples (we all know a few, Walker as a an excessive amount of not so well kept secrets). No one at Walker is ever referred to as a "cool kid" or a "money kid". 'Kids with money' don't get special treatment from coaches or teachers. There are no awards for rich kids. As far as I know awards go to kids who've achieved great things academically or athletically. Kids at Walker can be mean, but no one is going to openly mock someones coat or sneer a the fact it was bought at a mall (where, in fact, all Walker kids shop). No one at Walker shows up to school events in limos, unless you count Prom, but I'm pretty sure that happens at every school.

Why would someone pretend to post as a Walker student?
Ex Wa;lker Parent
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February 23, 2010
To the Walker Student- Feb 17th 03:22,

I feel your pain. You wrote an eloquent, beautifully sad but true commentary. I know that you speak the absolute truth of all the nonsense that is written here. I've sat through those meaningless award presentations, watched children punished while those that did 10 times worse get away with it, and seen the cliques and bullying that is tolerated. I saw and pulled my children out before it was too late. I'm sorry your parents did not recognize Walker for what it really is, daycare for students that can't make it on their own merits.

From reading your commentary though, you will be just fine. You are obviously going to go forth stronger for your experience.

Its too bad parents can't see through the crap like you did.
RAnDom
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February 23, 2010
You disgust me MDJ. Half of this story is incorrect. These are great people, and everyone makes mistakes. Mind your own business and find something better to worry about. Walker parents, you need to chill out. Why don't you worry about your 8 year old in 8 or 9 years. This is ridiculous and embarrassing. The writer obviously has something against The Walker School. Find something better to write about. You are a disgrace to this nation. None of this would have been blown out of proportions if it was not for the JEALOUS writer. "Can't we all just get along." If you have a child in the Walker School, that is not in High School, you have no business in this article. I personally know each and every one of these students, and parents, and I am not lying when i say that they are great people. Every person commenting on this has made a bad decision in their life. MOVE ON.
shockdparent
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February 22, 2010
These mothers have lost their minds. nothing too surprising coming from the walker school. Some people need to learn how to parent better
Silent Majority
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February 22, 2010
I've refrained from commenting up to now, but I do feel that the ground swell of anger towards these unethical and immoral public officials deserves to be voiced. Personally, I think the judge in question set a horrible example for our children as well as for aspiring judges and lawyers. When you not only break the law but try to silence others so that you can avoid the consequences, then you need to be punished.

I speak for myself but I can't imagine that most people angry at this judge for her unethical and possibly criminal conduct are happy that their tax dollars have been wasted, that justice has been mocked and that personal responsibility has been thrown by the curbside. When you make bad choices, you can expect bad outcomes.
arealwalkerparent
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February 22, 2010
to walker parent...be careful when you say NEVER..it will come back to bite you!!
Hypocrite Judge
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February 22, 2010
This woman and her bunch may be well mannered in front of those who have wealth and power, but her actions tell me she has no such class in front of everyday citizens doing their jobs. That she's a judge that is supposed to treat everyone equally is all the more galling. Actions like these have no place in our society today, much less in our justice system.
Justice Will Win
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February 22, 2010
Seeing as this lady conveniently forgot she was under investigation while continuing to hear cases, I would say she really hasn't learned anything... YET!
Inexcusable
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February 22, 2010
Count me among those that considers the judge's actions beyond reproach. I mean this lady CHOSE not to reveal any of these to the courts that she sat on!! So, now we taxpayers will have to pay for all those judges that are going to be hearing appeals of the cases Busch decided on because of "conflicts of interest." This is so sickening, I don't know how the judge can look herself in the mirror every morning while knowing that she's fleeced the entire county and made a mockery of the justice system.
Heard it all already
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February 21, 2010
I'm sick of the excuses being dished out for one inappropriate action after another. Facts: This is a judge that broke the law, allowed the law to be broken, tried to intimidate the justice system to suit her, and then when it did not suit her, tried to keep it hidden from the very justice system she is a part of. Corruption among our judges has no place in this county and no amount of excuses is going to change this fact.
MDJ or TMZ ?
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February 21, 2010
We live in a world of psychics who know the facts without interviewing anyone involved. We could save a lot of money without a court system; maybe trials by blog should be a cost saving measure for next year's County budget.

The individuals involved deserve their day in court and will face significant penalties if the facts warrant such. Here's hoping they learn lessons about underage drinking and forget the condemnations hurled for a week.

Cobb Conservative
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February 21, 2010
Looking at the facts, it's pretty clear Ms. Busch either did not realize she was legally responsible for what goes on inside her house (especially with underage minors) or she knowingly broke the law. I'll let everyone decide for themselves which is true. However, the implications are the same. If it's the first case, Ms. Busch is not qualified to be a judge; if it's the second, she's also not qualified to be the judge...

I am grateful the MDJ is bringing attention to those politicians and their public official friends that time and time again continue to eschew honesty, integrity and transparency once in office. Keep up the great work!
Shame on Busch!!
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February 21, 2010
Faulting the MDJ for Ms. Busch's inexcusable conduct misses the point. What Ms. Busch did was wrong. What she tried to do after-wards was also wrong. Everyone I've talked to agrees this judge has not served us taxpayers well and deserves to go. Most also feel that what happened clearly violated the law and just because this judge and her friends with connections don't like the law is not a valid reason to not hold them to the law.
A Real Parent
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February 21, 2010
I agree with those that fault the judge for her actions. As I see it, you can insult those that caught the judge's illegal behavior all you want, but at the end of the day, the judge and the kids engaged in illegal conduct and the judge's subsequent conduct suggests she's not at all concerned about the potential consequences of her actions.

And to that walker parent, yes, I am a real person and this has never and will never happen in my household. Some of us do actually teach our kids to respect the law and to take responsibility when they break the law.
Sunday Reader
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February 21, 2010
That many laws were broken is pretty obvious. The real question is will those responsible be duly punished. I know we voters will do what we can (shame on you Wiles!) but this judge really needs to do what's right rather than forcing voters to start a recall effort for repeated violations of the public trust.
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