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Filing asks Ga. top court to put Columbia County judicial split back on hold

The Georgia Supreme Court has announced work to create a Columbia County judicial circuit may...
The Georgia Supreme Court has announced work to create a Columbia County judicial circuit may resume. Not so fast, a new filing says.(WRDW)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 12:08 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 3:55 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -The Georgia Supreme Court has announced work to create a Columbia County judicial circuit may resume on Thursday.

However, a filing Wednesday afternoon seeks to keep the split on hold.

Lawsuits and a temporary restraining order had held the split on hold, pushing back its intended start date from the beginning of this month.

But according to an order released by the State Supreme Court late Tuesday afternoon, the split can move forward.

However, in a more than 1,400-page filing on Wednesday, the Black Voters Matter Fund asked the court to reconsider allowing the split to move forward.

“This appeal involves complex, new legal issues and it has far-ranging implications for the Augusta Judicial Circuit and the State of Georgia,” the filing states. “The underlying appeal involves one of the first challenges raised under the recent amendment to Georgia’s constitution whereby the State waives sovereign immunity related to declaratory actions. It also involves the constitutionality underlying the creation of a new judicial circuit. The implementation of SB 9 would have serious administrative, legal, and financial impacts on the affected counties and the State of Georgia.”

READ THE FULL FILING FROM THE BLACK VOTERS MATTER FUND:

Senate Bill 9, approved by the Legislature and promoted by Columbia County as a cost-saving move, would split off that county’s courts from the Augusta Circuit, which would be reduced to Richmond and Burke counties.

Columbia County also get its own district attorney, with Gov. Brian Kemp appointing former U.S Attorney Bobby Christine to that role.

A lawsuit alleged the split violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the due-process clause of Georgia’s Constitution.

The plaintiffs argued the split is not fair to Columbia County voters since Gov. Brian Kemp chose their district attorney instead of District Attorney Jared Williams, who won the election.

On July 12, a Superior Court judge ruled the split is constitutional.

The plaintiffs have filed an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. The cases were docketed and are scheduled for the court’s November calendar.

But the court said Tuesday that in the meantime, the split can move forward.

READ THE SUPREME COURT’S ORDER:

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