The Supreme Court of Georgia slammed local officials in Douglas County contesting for the seat of the chief magistrate judge.

The Justice, Charles J. Bethel, slammed the County’s government on Tuesday as he said they were playing games with the candidate qualifying process. The Douglas Country government had also overturned a lower court’s decision to remove a democratic candidate from the ballot as he was deemed unfit for office.

The Justice’s comments came on Tuesday during an argument between attorney Jonathan Nussbaum, the County’s Board of Elections representative, and Milton Kidd, the County’s Election Director. Both parties were arguing about Democrat Ryan Williams’s placement on the November ballot.

Bethel asserted, “It’s remarkable to me that the government is playing games, frankly — and I’m not saying you, counsel, understand. But the government you represent is playing games with the process of qualifying candidates for office in a democratic society. That’s just staggering to me that we’re sitting here saying, ‘Well, you meet these qualifications, and these qualifications over here, they’re only process qualifications.’ That’s hard for me to wrap my mind around.”

The Longview News Journal also reported that “The high court agreed to hear the appeal by local attorney Scott Camp, who argues that Douglas County Chief Judge William H. “Beau” McClain erred when he ruled in July he didn’t have authority under state law cited by Camp (OCGA 21-2-6) to remove Williams as a candidate for chief magistrate from the November ballot.’” It was also noted that the democrat was running against Camp’s wife, Chief Magistrate Judge Susan Camp, who was elected in 1998.

Though the judge found that he could not remove the democrat from the ballot, he also found that the processes used by the democratic party and the election board to put Williams on the ballot in the first place violated state law.

However, the county government and Williams have argued that the law only allows challenges regarding the statutory qualifications and not the procedures used to place the candidate’s name on the ballot.

The outlet also noted, “Much of the hearing Tuesday centered around whether a candidate’s ‘qualifications’ referenced in OCGA 21-2-6 — which can be challenged per the statute — entail only certain substantive things that a candidate must have, such as being 25 years old and a member of the state bar, or whether those qualifications also include the ‘process qualifications’ Justice Bethel referenced in his rebuke.”

Camp’s attorney, Bryan Tyson, also noted that the law used in challenging Williams’s candidacy includes other requirements that can automatically remove the candidate from the ballot. He referred to the state law that provides a process to disqualify a candidate if the tendered qualifying check bounces. This automatically means the candidate has officially failed to meet the qualifications necessary for office qualification.

A final decision by the court is expected to be announced before the election on the 8th of November.


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