Local candidates for the position of chief magistrate judge in Douglas County received harsh criticism from the Georgia Supreme Court.
Charles J. Bethel, the Justice, criticized the County’s administration on Tuesday, accusing them of manipulating the candidate qualification process. A lower court’s order to strike down a democratic candidate from the ballot because he was deemed unsuitable for office was also overruled by the Douglas County government.
The Justice made his remarks during a disagreement on Tuesday between Milton Kidd, the county’s election director, and attorney Jonathan Nussbaum, who represented the board of elections for the county. The placement of Democrat Ryan Williams on the November ballot was a contentious issue between the two sides.
Local attorney Scott Camp appealed to the high court, arguing that Douglas County Chief Judge William H. “Beau” McClain made a mistake when he decided in July that Camp’s stated state legislation (OCGA 21-2-6) did not provide him the right to strike Williams’ name as a candidate for chief magistrate from the November ballot.
Additionally, it was mentioned that Susan Camp, chief magistrate judge, was being challenged by the democrat. Susan Camp was elected in 1998.
The judge discovered that he was unable to get Williams removed off the ballot, but he also discovered that the democratic party’s and the election board’s methods for putting Williams on the ballot in the first place were illegal under state law.
The county administration and Williams, on the other hand, have asserted that the legislation only permits objections relating to the statutory requirements and not the methods employed to include the candidate’s name on the ballot.
Tuesday’s hearing was largely focused on the question of whether the “qualifications” listed in OCGA 21-2-6, which are subject to challenge under the statute, only refer to a candidate’s age and membership in the state bar when they are 25 or also include the “process qualifications” Justice Bethel alluded to in his criticism.