Legal dispute over courtroom space may finally get a hearing
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A legal dispute over whether a Georgia judge can order local leaders to create new courtroom space may finally make it to a courtroom.
The Augusta Chronicle reports a judge from southwest Georgia has been appointed to hear Augusta’s objection to an order in July by Superior Court Judge Carl Brown to renovate a former jail and school for court use.
The consolidated city-county’s fight against Brown’s order has already taken a zigzag path through the state court system. Augusta first appealed the case to the state Court of Appeals. That court sent it to the state Supreme Court, which sent it back to the Court of Appeals. Judges there ruled Dec. 30 that they shouldn’t hear the case because there had been no ruling by a trial court on the city’s objection to Brown’s order.
The city-county filed a fresh objection earlier this month in Richmond County Superior Court, with senior Superior Court Judge Joe C. Bishop appointed to hear the case.
Brown argues courts need more room for proceedings because of COVID-19 and that the city-county government has ignored his three-year push for juvenile court space. After the order, city-county commissioners voted to demolish the former jail and law enforcement complex, saying Brown had overreached his authority.
Brown then ordered all elected Augusta commissioners and a renovation committee he named to appear in court, prompting the local government’s appeal.
Besides arguing that the judge has exceeded his authority, the city also argues that he’s violating public bidding laws and going around the city-county’s budget rules.