UPDATE — Columbia County’s effort to create its own Judicial Circuit can move forward July 22 at midnight following a ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court.
The appeal of the original ruling will be heard in November. Until then, Columbia County can proceed.
For more information, see the full document from the Georgia Supreme Court below.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) —The fate of the Augusta Judicial Circuit now rests with the Georgia Supreme Court. This week, Senior Judge Adele Grubbs ruled that Senate Bill 9, the bill allowing Columbia County to leave the circuit, is valid and constitutional. However, an order issued by the Georgia Supreme Court on July 7 prevents Grubbs’ ruling from going into effect, meaning no action can be taken to split the circuit until the Supreme Court rules.
“We all knew it was going to the Supreme Court,” Jack Long, the attorney representing plaintiff Willie Saunders, says. “I think they’ll eventually say, ‘We want to hear this all together,’ and they’ll sit down for oral arguments.”
Among other things, the Georgia Supreme Court will consider if it is feasible to split the Augusta Judicial Circuit. On Friday, eight scenarios were presented to the Judicial Workload Assessment Committee, which showed how judges’ workloads could change if Richmond, Columbia and Burke Counties stayed together, split off or joined other circuits. The committee voted to recommend that no changes be made to the circuit.
Long tells NewsChannel 6 he does not anticiapte the Georgia Supreme Court to make a ruling until the end of 2021.
“That is probably the end of the road for everybody.”