Lawsuit filed against Augusta judicial split lands on governor’s desk

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 7:51 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA CO., Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A lawsuit landed on the Georgia governor’s desk all concerning the judicial circuit split in Augusta.

Governor Brian Kemp had signed off on Columbia County leaving the circuit, but opponents filing the suit say it’s unconstitutional.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it,” Jack Long said. Long works with Tucker Long P.C. and is representing another lawyer, filing suit against the judicial circuit split.

The suit alleges Columbia County left the circuit over one thing: race.

It claims the split only came about once the circuit’s first African American District Attorney, Jared Williams, was elected.

“Only when he was elected district attorney was the effort made to create a new circuit,” Long explained.

The suit alleges the split infringes on voter’s rights. All of those people who voted for Williams in Columbia County, but will not have him as a DA.

“Does the legislature have the power to override the vote of the electorate? And I don’t think they do,” Long said.

Supporters claimed the split would save Columbia County close to a million dollars, leaving people like Long scratching their heads when lawmakers requested $1.3 million to give to Columbia County to pay for the split.

“And it’s going to cost Richmond County more money and Burke County more money. The least they could have done is go to those two counties and tell them, ‘We’re going to get you more money too,’” Long said.

Financial analysis in the suit claims Columbia County will not save a million dollars, but rather it will cost a million annually.

And with so many dollar signs involved, some say splitting the circuit in just a few months is too rushed.

“If there’s some doubt about it, and you put it off two or three months, and you do some studies and you figure these issues out, nobody’s harmed,” Long explained.

But it seems all of those issues will have to be settled in court. Since the lawsuit was just served yesterday, a court date has not been decided yet.

But Long says there could be a possibility this suit goes to federal court since it’s arguing there’s a constitutional violation here.

FOLLOW THE COVERAGE

Copyright 2021 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.