On Friday, July 31, 2020, the Haralson County Grand Jury, which had been impaneled in January, convened in accordance with the Judicial Emergency Order guidelines currently in place, to hear evidence concerning the arrest of Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge, Meng Lim. After presentation of the case, the Grand Jury “no billed” the case, thereby declining to formally indict Judge Lim for the domestic violence charges.
The matter was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and, following the GBI’s arrest of Judge Lim, the case was turned over to the Haralson County District Attorney’s Office. The case and evidence was reviewed by District Attorney, Jack Browning, and presented to the Grand Jury for their determination of whether the case should be formally indicted and proceed to trial.
The case involved a report of domestic violence allegedly committed by Judge Lim against his wife in February. The case came to the attention of law enforcement after Judge Lim’s wife reported the alleged altercation to a friend in Washington state, who, concerned for the wife’s safety, reported the matter to local law enforcement. The wife’s initial report to her friend was that Judge Lim had physically beat her up following an argument over his disciplining of her son, his step-son, severely injuring her face. The wife’s first outcry to the friend in Washington was evidenced by a lengthy text message between the two that included a graphic photograph of the injuries she said she suffered during the altercation. However, the wife later recanted and denied the version of the incident that she had initially described in the text messages, and said the physical altercation was, instead, between her and Judge Lim’s teenage daughter. Judge Lim stated his involvement was only to break up the fight, but that he might have hit her in the process. During their interviews, both Judge Lim and his daughter denied knowing how the wife received the injuries that she suffered, as shown in the photograph.
District Attorney Browning stated that “the injuries in the photograph of Judge Lim’s wife, that she sent to her friend in Washington, were some of the worst” he has seen “in a domestic violence case,” but that he “was not surprised that all of the individuals who were present during the altercation – the victim, the children, Judge Lim — later told police they didn’t know exactly how she suffered those injuries.” Browning stated “unfortunately, that is fairly typical in domestic violence cases.”
In presenting the case to the Grand Jury, Browning stated that “every piece of evidence that was turned over to my office from the GBI investigation – every text message, every photograph, every witness interview – was presented to the Grand Jury, along with other evidence that our office learned of during our review of the case.” Browning added that the Grand Jury “also heard testimony from a domestic violence expert who was brought in to assist the Grand Jury members on understanding the dynamics of domestic violence, its impact on those involved and, in particular, to help them understand why domestic violence victims often recant their allegations and refuse to participate in the prosecution of such cases, despite there being evidence that points to the truthfulness of the allegations.”
Browning explained “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.” Browning added that, “because of the amount of evidence involved, particularly the recorded witness interviews, the case took approximately 6 hours to present to the Grand Jury.” Browning explained that the recorded interviews included those with Judge Lim’s wife, her friend to whom she initially reported the altercation, the three children present at the home during the altercation, and two interviews with Judge Lim.
Browning stated that, he was “somewhat surprised by Grand Jury’s decision, given the evidence presented. However, because of the secrecy of Grand Jury deliberations, I will never know how or why they arrived at their decision not to indict.” Browning concluded, stating that “as an officer of the court and our system of justice, I will absolutely respect the Grand Jury’s decision, regardless of whether I agree with it or not. Accordingly, at this time, our office will consider this matter concluded and our file closed.”
article written by: Office of DA, Jack Browning