February 16, 2006
It was a pretty quick day in court. Woody Merry, the mayor and eight of the commissioners were present. Both sides had thirty minutes to present their case.
They sat in the jury box, but today Augusta commissioners would not be making the decisions. For an hour Judge Carlisle Overstreet heard the case brought by local government watchdog Woody Merry.
Merry’s attorney, Joe Neal, Jr., argued commissioners are paralyzing the government by abstaining on critical votes. He cited several Supreme Court cases that he says prove commissioners must say yes or no.
“How can you beat the United States Supreme Court?” Neal said.
“I really didn’t understand everything that they were saying. Some of the information they were bringing out went back some years ago, didn’t have anything to do with what we are going through right now,” said Calvin Holland.
In defense, City Attorney Steve Shephard told the judge it’s a simple solution, look at the charter, which requires six affirmative votes for any commission decision.
“It’s a very important case, but I feel good about what we got in and what we’ve got to do,” Shephard said.
Now it’s up to the judge to decide who’s right.
“We didn’t get this far and not expect to win, we’ve done our homework. Joe Neal has done an excellent job of prepping everyone for this hearing,” Merry said.
A ruling is expected next week, but when it comes will this be the end?
“I hope so, I trust the judge to make the correct decision,” Deke Copenhaver said.
“We intend to get a judicial resolution one way or the other, if we have to go to the Supreme Court, we will,” Neal said.