Nov. 18, 2013 — Two Fulton County whistleblowers may proceed with legal claims that they lost their jobs in retaliation for reporting misuse of taxpayers’ funds, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. The decision strengthens the state’s whistleblower law by holding that the law protects all public employees, not just those who work in state-funded programs, and dismissing Fulton County’s defense of sovereign immunity.
Oct. 7, 2013 — The Georgia Supreme Court today unanimously ordered disbarment of Atlanta City Council member H. Lamar Willis for taking $30,000 from a client and failing to repay it. Willis’s actions, the high court said, demonstrate his “extreme disregard of his duty to safeguard the property of a client, which undermines the public trust.”
June 3, 2013 — A candidate did not present enough evidence of irregularities to overturn a 2012 election that he lost to Baker County Sheriff Dana Meade, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. Tim Williamson received about one-third more votes than Meade in the 2012 Democratic primary but lost a runoff by 39 votes. Williamson challenged the results claiming there were irregularities with absentee ballots and votes bought with money or liquor, but the high court said it wouldn’t have changed the outcome even if true.
May 20, 2013 — The Georgia Supreme Court today signed off on a reprimand for state Democratic Party chair Mike Berlon for his inaction in a 2005 child-custody case. A special master found that Berlon failed to file a change of custody petition requested by a client, who only found out when he appeared in court. “This has been going on for a long, long time and it’s nice to get it resolved,” Berlon said.
A Marietta attorney who won 105,000 votes in a 2008 race for a Cobb County judgeship was disbarred today by the Georgia Supreme Court. In a 10-page ruling, the court said Joan Palmer Davis failed to show up in court on behalf of a client who was seeking to terminate his child-support obligations, then tried to resign from the case without telling him.
A DeKalb County fire captain won his job back today as the Georgia Supreme Court ruled CEO Burrell Ellis must abide by decisions of a hearing officer, the county’s Merit System Council and a Superior Court judge. Capt. Sell Caldwell III was one of several firefighters who were dismissed after a fatal 2010 house fire in Dunwoody.
Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, a south Georgia judge soon will no longer be a convicted felon. In court filings, federal prosecutors say a 2010 ruling by the high court leaves no choice but to vacate a 2009 guilty plea by former Alapaha Circuit Superior Court Judge Brooks E. Blitch III.
Good news for open government advocates: The Georgia Supreme Court today upheld a lower court’s assessment of legal fees to citizens who challeged closed meetings held by the Statesboro City Council. The ruling comes after the council met in secret last year to discuss eliminating the jobs of the city’s police and fire chiefs.
A child molestor who spent 22 months too long in prison can sue Fulton County court officials for mishandling papers that would have led to his release, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. Former Fulton County Superior Court Clerk Juanita Hicks cannot claim immunity from liability, the high court ruled in a unanimous decision, because the error breached her statutory duty to notify prison officials of the man’s reduced sentence.
Cobb Electric Membership Corp. violated a 2008 settlement with unhappy members who accused some co-op leaders of enriching themselves at members’ expense, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. Dissident members hoped to unseat board members in a scheduled 2009 election that was never held after the EMC’s leadership voted in secret to allow proxy voting by mail. The high court ruled the board may not unilaterally change the method by which its members are chosen.
Georgians must show valid photo identification before casting a ballot, the Georgia Supreme Court said today in a 6-1 decision. The court’s majority held that a 2006 Georgia law is a reasonable safeguard to protect the integrity of elections without disenfranchising voters. Justice Robert Benham, in a written dissent, argued the state had not proven the photo ID requirement was necessary.
A judge who shared drugs with his stripper girlfriend, along with a second jurist who freed criminal defendants without telling prosecutors, both lost their law licenses today. The Georgia Supreme Court disbarred former Superior Court Judge Brooks Blitch and accepted the voluntary surrender of former federal judge Jack Camp‘s license to practice law.