NEWTON, Ga. — Baker County Superior Court Judge J. Kevin Chason on Thursday denied three motions from Baker School Board Attorney Alex Kaplan to quash and expunge a reconvened Baker County Grand Jury's second set of presentments requesting a probe of expenditures by the board.
Chason's decision means South Georgia Circuit District Attorney Joe Mulholland will be issuing subpoenas in the probe beginning as early as today.
"It's probably best that I issue no statement in regard to the investigation at this time," Mulholland said. "I think the proper course of action will be to wait until the investigation is complete."
Kaplan, who last month had convinced Chason to expunge the Grand Jury's original presentments that officially launched the investigation, was not surprised by Thursday's ruling.
"No, I'm not really surprised by his (Chason's) decision," Kaplan said. "We still don't know who they are looking at or what they are looking for. I hope the subpoenas are narrowly tailored enough so we will be able to get an idea.
"While we were hoping for a different outcome, we certainly respect the opinion of the court."
Kaplan did not rule out appealing Chason's decision.
During arguments, Kaplan asserted "this is an investigation to find unknown wrongs committed by unknown persons. This is really just one big fishing expedition.
"It's clear what is going on — allegations of extortion and corruption. We need persons named and linked to a specific crime. We don't have that here."
Mulholland quickly countered.
"The presentments speak for themselves," Mulholland said to Chason. "These motions are no more than a frivolous attempt to quash and suppress. It's pretty clear from these frivolous motions and rhetoric that this investigation will be contentious."
The controversy arose in July when Mulholland, whose circuit includes Baker County, was approached by members of the Baker County Concerned Citizens for Education in regard to expenditures by the school system.
Three of the group's members — Major Skinner, Mike Tabb and Buster Delucca — presented evidence to the Grand Jury, which directed Mulholland to look into the matter. Chason's expungement order effectively ended the first probe before it began.
A week later the Grand Jury reconvened and put together a new set of presentments, which Chason upheld.