Commissioners Prepare for Upcoming Court Case

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

February 15, 2006
It started with a lawsuit against one commissioner, now they’re all involved. A judge is set to decide whether they have the right to abstain from critical votes. News 12 has a preview of this case.

The plot seems to thicken every week. First was the gridlock vote over the mayor pro-tem, then a lawsuit, then several depositions. Tomorrow though, a possible end to the power struggle as this case goes before a judge.

If you ask him, Woody Merry will tell you he is poised and prepared for his day in court.

“Oh, we’re very upbeat and positive, we’re in it to win it,” Merry said.

It started when Merry filed a lawsuit against Commissioner Marion Williams. Weeks later, he added the entire commission and the mayor to his civil suit. The issue is whether it’s legal for commissioners to abstain from voting.

“We’ve done our research, we know exactly what we’re talking about, we’ve got case law to support it,” Merry said.

All of the commissioners will be represented by City Attorney Steve Shephard. But Commissioners Beard, Holland, Hatney, and Williams have opted to hire personal lawyers.

“I think they’re scared to be honest with you, you don’t add additional horsepower unless you’re scared,” Merry said.

“I’m not scared of Woody Merry,” said Jerry Brigham.

“Not one bit nervous,” Marion Williams said.

Commissioner Calvin Holland has hired well-known Augusta lawyer Ben Allen to represent him. He told News 12, “I am not afraid. I just wanted to make sure I was legally advised in a professional way. It’s not that I didn’t have trust in Mr. Shephard.”

Jerry Brigham says he didn’t feel it was necessary to seek outside counsel, on his mind, getting the case over with.

“I want to do what the laws of Georgia require me to do and require me to act,” Brigham said.

“I will tell you, I just want to let this judge make the decision tomorrow and move past this,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said.

“I’m just glad to get this over with, hopefully he can go somewhere and sit down and get out of the way,” Williams said.


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