AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Columbia County’s judicial split with Richmond and Burke counties will not happen July 1st as originally planned.
Today, Senior Judge Adele Grubbs filed an order setting the new hearing date for Monday, July 12th, more than a week after the date was approved by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. The first day of July was set as the operational date for the new judicial circuit and as former U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine’s first day as District Attorney for the single-county judicial circuit.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was served with the civil lawsuit May 3rd.
Richmond, Burke and Columbia counties are named as co-defendants in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Augusta lawyer Willie Saunders.
Last week, Burke County Attorney Barry Fleming asked for Senior Judge Hon. Gail Tusan to be disqualified from presiding over the trial due to a conflict of interest. Senior Judge Tusan, shortly before agreeing to the legal grounds of the recusal, imposed a temporary restraining order on the splitting of the three-county circuit.
During the filing of these orders, Judge James G. Blanchard, Administrative Judge of the Tenth Judicial Administrative District, after considering the ramifications of the lawsuit, disqualified all judges within the Tenth Judicial Administrative District and requested the assistance of the Eighth Judicial Administrative District.
With this request, the appointment of subsequent Judges fell into the purview of Honorable Judge Sarah Wall, Administrative Judge for the Eighth Judicial District.
Senior Judge Adele Grubbs was appointed to the case by Hon. Judge Wall Tuesday.
Senior Judge Grubbs orders today mean that the hearing on July 12th will include consideration of the temporary restraining order, the consolidation of the case with a related law suit by the group Black Voters Matter Incorporated, and other issues.
Senior Judge Tusan’s temporary restraining order was filed June 15th and, unless otherwise ordered by the new presiding Judge, Hon. Adele Grubbs, is set to expire after 30 days.