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Judges recuse themselves in Heard lawsuit

Attorney Henry Williams, left, and Greater 2nd Mt. Olive Baptist Church Pastor Lorenzo Heard stand on the steps of the Dougherty County Courthouse Tuesday where they announced they have filed suit to force the county Board of Elections to place Heard’s name on the November ballot against Lane Price in the at-large school board race.

Attorney Henry Williams, left, and Greater 2nd Mt. Olive Baptist Church Pastor Lorenzo Heard stand on the steps of the Dougherty County Courthouse Tuesday where they announced they have filed suit to force the county Board of Elections to place Heard’s name on the November ballot against Lane Price in the at-large school board race.

ALBANY,Ga. — The Dougherty Judicial Circuit’s three Superior Court judges have voluntarily recused themselves from hearing Lorenzo Heard’s lawsuit in which he asks to be included on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.

Heard is seeking to run as an independent to challenge Democrat Lane Price, who defeated the Democratic incumbent, Anita Williams-Brown, in the July 31 Democratic Primary. There is no Republican candidate.

Heard filed suit Tuesday against the Dougherty Elections Board, contending he was incorrectly disqualified from running as an independent. The board, in a hearing last week, determined Heard had not met the requirements for filing his affidavit, had not paid his candidate qualifying fee and did not have enough signatures on his petition of candidacy.

In their joint recusal order, Chief Judge Willie Lockette and Judges Stephen Goss and Denise Marshall ask that the administrative judge for the state’s Second District appoint a superior court judge or superior court senior judge from outside the Dougherty Circuit to hear the case.

In a related development on Wednesday, Heard placed a classified ad in The Albany Herald announcing his intention to run as a “write-in candidate for Dougherty County Board of Education at-large seat.”

Comments

Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

Well kind of like an ill mannered child. Try to keep asking and crying long enough and somebody might tell you yes instead of no. Seems like this thing with the business degree preacher credentials is no longer about the Kids of DCSS, it has become he just wants in the race even though he waited till the absoloute last minute to turn in his paper work that apparently not complete and not meet all the requirements. Nothing like advance planning.

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Albanite 2 years, 2 months ago

Those are some serious allegations raised in the WALB-TV comments section. Heard should address those first before wasting money on this appeal.

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 2 months ago

Again, I ask...who can we expect to investigate the fraud perpetuated by the petition? 3258 signatures submitted, 1672 certified and 1202 not certified after the elections board determined there would not be enough signatures to qualify Heard even if they continued. That means approximately 19% of the signatures reviewed by the board were invalid! That's outside of what would be considered a simple mistake. Someone is lying and attempted to defraud the election process. If whitey did this, the NAACP would be marching to the steps of the courthouse demanding JUSTICE.

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Tonto 2 years, 2 months ago

Yell "fire" loud enough and people start to think they smell smoke. The county loses either way now. If he gets on the ballot the system didn't work. If he gets denied, folks will claim the system didn't work. The Judges stepped aside (no explaination given) so someone outside the issue can make a decision they are unwilling to face (shoulda known that before they became judges). You just can't fix a problem if all the tools are broken.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 2 months ago

Albanite, it is not his money being wasted on the appeal. He has not even bothered to pay the fees for being a candidate. This should be interesting. Anyone know who the judge is and where he's from?

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Citizen_A 2 years, 2 months ago

That is funny that none of the Judges here will hear his case....I don't blame them.

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 2 months ago

No offense, but, I don't think it's funny and I DO blame the judges! Do your dadgum (I have stronger language, but, this is a public forum) job! That's what you were elected / appointed to do! Even the judges are playing politics.

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Citizen_A 2 years, 2 months ago

It's funny how on other story about Heard filing suit that squawkers said that if Lockette heard the case Heard would win, and the same for Marshall. Then the next thing you they have all recused themselves.

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tywebb 2 years, 2 months ago

someone should just accept it and then throw it out for being frivolous

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 2 months ago

There should not be adequate reason for ALL of these judges to recuse themselves. Are they all members of Heard's church? No. Is he their personal spiritual advisor? No. Are they just spineless enough to not want to get on the bad side of a particular segment of the community?...................I think I found the reason. These guys are getting paid to make impartial legal assessments and judgments. Do it and quit turning tail and running from responsibility.

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scjjcb 2 years, 2 months ago

Actually the election code REQUIRES the case be heard by judges outside of Dougherty County or the Judicial circuit where the election contest is filed. The Herald's headline nor article explain that requirement. So the voluntary recusal is actually redundant.

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whattheheck 2 years, 2 months ago

It is a shame that the entire judicial system from DA through all the judges recuse themselves from so many cases because of friends, friend of friends, or in this case not wanting to the take the blame from whites or blacks, as the case may be, for hearing this case and making a ruling under the law. Why not just combine us with a bunch of other counties and make a random draw on who gets to partake in a case--short straw loses.

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mnavie1111 2 years, 2 months ago

U can't stop what's meant to b. Down wit the confederate ideals of if it not white it's not right.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

The judges and county lawyers should forego their salaries for the time Bro. Heard is in court. This is a finding of law. The facts are clear. He did not have an acceptable application. He did not pay his application fee. He did not have sufficient number of certified signatures. Why are our paid judges and county lawyers not able to handle this. While Bro. Alonzo may protest he submitted correct information. He shredded the damned thing. A fact for which there is no contradiction. He submitted certain petitions from supposed voters but did not submit correct number of certified voters. No disputation. A fact unchallenged. The judges should not be paid for the days this case is at trial . The county attorney shouldn't be paid for any days he's such a toad he couldn't win a bet as to his birthdate.

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scjjcb 2 years, 2 months ago

Again, the election law requires a judge from outside the Dougherty circuit hear the case. A voluntary recusal is redundant. Any election contest in any county or judicial circuit must be heard by a judge from outside that judicial circuit.

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nofreeloader 2 years, 2 months ago

.They have a certain ethical code to adhere to,thus recusal ls justified .elections are no different then a highly publicized murder case etc.As most people in DOCO is watching the DCSS BOE election That's why someone else is gonna get the hearing. They are not spineless they are doing their jobs as we are paying them to do.Following the law.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

Where is the ethical conflict in the so called ethical code? It is just political on their part. Heard will appeal any judge's ruling on any basis look at the basis of the lawsuit at hand. Hell, if these judges and lawyers can't handle elections and school board issues we might as well discontinue at least half of the positions.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 2 months ago

There is a code of ethics. Do you want me to show it to you?

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

The question is not whether there is a code of ethics. The question is where is the conflict? Simply because this deals with the county where a judge sits? A judge is capable of applying the law in cases like this. Stephen Goss heard the case against Phoebe Putney to prevent merging with Palmyra Hospital brought by a local attorney on behalf of a client. He dismissed the case based on his application of the law. If a judge was first cousins with Alonzo Heard or Dr. Price that would be a legitimate basis for recusal. Spencer Lee had to recuse him self, thankfully, because he supported Dr. Price. That's legit. But just because a judge needs political cover does not mean they are excused from their duties. If conflicts exist they should be enumerated. The losing party can use anything as a basis for appeal. But that is why we have appellate courts which determine the legitimacy of appeals.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 2 months ago

Thank you, nofreeloader. You must work in the legal field because you are wise. They do have to adhere by ethical code and what they did certainly is justified. If all these people want to complain on their soap box then they should have stepped up and ran against them in the primary. They were all up for re-election. So live with it people!!!

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 2 months ago

The cat is out of the bag, Sister lives in Valdosta, and this explains the negative environment she foster toward people of __.

READ MY LIPS - WE THE CITIZENS LOVE ASU,DCSS, DARTON, and all other ATTRACTIONs.

Stop using the global internet to cause dispair in our community. We are winners! we alsways win.

Stop hidding behind your empty sad song's.

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bubbasmithredneck 2 years, 2 months ago

oooh.....that explains it.....Thanks BVR!

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tywebb 2 years, 2 months ago

Coach, I'm surprised it took you 8 hours and 6 minutes to log off as BVR and then log back on as BSR. your computer skills are slipping.
BTW, the answer to the fill in the blank question is.....Hellbany

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 2 months ago

I live down the street from YOU, you dumba$$. Stop with your infatuation of me. Get some professional help.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes and I am humbled and thankful.

But as a Major Prophetess, I dasn't take any credit for for my gifting. God Bless.

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waltspecht 2 years, 2 months ago

True, if they didn't recuse themselves there would definately be grounds for appeal. Wonder why they just don't drag it out like Dawson did when the Lady challenged severaol voters. That got continued until it wasn't an issue because the term was up. Now that was crooked Politics at work.

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Tonto 2 years, 2 months ago

There can be "appeal" in any case. if fear of appeal is justification for a judge not taking a case, we're going to have a lot of strangers riding the bench we supposedly pay someone else to sit on. They could have at least seated the court and see if the defense or proscution was going to challenge them for reclusial...and the reasons why.

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43cop 2 years, 2 months ago

Give the Judges credit for facing this problem and knowing Heard would appeal this and there is a good possibility the election could be delayed. Bring in a Judge from another circuit can possiblility prevent an appeal and help stop the all the accusations that the Judge and/or Judges are representing Heard and his flock. Legal knowledge from our Judges should be praised instead of complainted about and hopefullly this will resolve the situation of Heard, Bush and Murfree trying to get Dr. Price off the DCSB. If it doesn't, I hope every voter tht is registered will vote in November and send Heard back where he came from along with his ___. (left blank for your benefit)

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

This is a finding of law - does the law (rule) apply; was the law (rule) met. Ethical issues are not at hand. Heard will appeal any judge's ruling on any basis look at the basis of the lawsuit at hand. Hell, if these judges and lawyers can't handle elections and school board issues we might as well discontinue at least half of the positions.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

Again, the question is not whether there is a code of ethics. The question is whether there is a conflict and what is the conflict? Simply because this deals with the county where a judge sits? A judge is capable of applying the law in cases like this. Stephen Goss heard the case against Phoebe Putney to prevent merging with Palmyra Hospital brought by a local attorney on behalf of a client. Goss dismissed the case based on his application of the law. If a judge was first cousins with Alonzo Heard or Dr. Price that would be a legitimate basis for recusal. Spencer Lee had to recuse him self, thankfully, because he supported Dr. Price. That's legit. But just because a judge needs political cover does not mean they are excused from their duties. If conflicts exist they should be enumerated. The losing party can use anything as a basis for appeal. We have appellate courts to determine the legitimacy of appeals.

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missdaisy 2 years, 2 months ago

Well lets see; several things to cover. I have been an attorney for 30 years and one thing is clear, you do not have to be a rocket surgeon to be one; and certainly do not have to be ethical. Surely, whoever the judge is that sits on this case will summarily dismiss it on a Motion for Summary Judgement, and send this "comic book" reverend back to his "activism." This guy's church should loose it tax exempt status, if it has one.

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B4it 2 years, 2 months ago

I am not disagreeing with you, but I would like to understand why you made your comment about loosing the tax exempt status.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

missdaisy, as an attorney your comment is cogently clear. I would out of humor direct your attention to your last sentence where I believe you meant "lose it's tax exempt status." I think the church already has a "loose tax exempt status." LOL.

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gradin78 2 years, 2 months ago

I was thinking the same thing! So many out there don't know how to use the words "loose or lose", "then or than" "and or an", "their or there"...the list goes on and on, shame. I have seen this even in my grandchild who is in the 5th grade! I correct her each time and hopefully she will learn from that. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in classes today.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

I think this was just a typo. I only mentioned it for humor.

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FlunkyMonkey 2 years, 2 months ago

I have read with interest about the judges recusing themselves in the Heard case. The Dougherty Judicial Circuit judges have a clear conflict of interest. If the judges know either of the candidates, that could (notice I saId COULD, not WOULD) cloud any judgment they rendered in the case; thus giving at least one of the candidates an appealable error. Second, these judges are routinely called upon to sit in judgment on school board decisions and personnel. Third, as taxpayers in Dougherty County, they would have a financial interest in whichever candidate is elected. I fully agree that the judges, by recusing themselves, made the right decision. Put this in the hands of a disinterested third party and let them see how foolish this is. Heard and his cronies on the school board need to learn that they will no longer be allowed to play outside the rules.

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TheMember 2 years, 2 months ago

One quick question: Can we as taxpayers file a lawsuit to recoup the charges for this frivolous lawsuit. I'm so sure he is full of s&%$ I would say, he wins, we pay for his fees, if he loses, he pays all. Is that fair Mr. Heard?

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 2 months ago

So, if one of the judges attends a large church in in Albany, is member of a local civic organization or attended high school here, they must recuse themselves because they might have sat next to someone in 5th grade home economics class? Where does it end? They are elected/appointed to interpret and apply the rule of law in an unbiased manner. Period. I'm curious to understand how a judge could benefit financially from a particular school board member being elected...or not?

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nofreeloader 2 years, 2 months ago

Honestly folks if you were asked if you would preside over the hearing could you have a BIAS opinion. We all no what is an is not right. We've already judged Mr. heard. We read every ones comments an it's an understatement that we could be fair. This will all work out for the better. What's the worse thing that could happen? he becomes a write in .. I don't see many of these people in here writing his name in on any election. Even better for the future of albany an the DCSS . Change takes time, it's small steps that we all are working for in the same direction. Here's another to ponder cause it's on the back burner who's gonna hold the hearings over the Velvet Riggins case? Bet you the same will happen as well.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

nofreeloader says: "Here's another to ponder cause it's on the back burner who's gonna hold the hearings over the Velvet Riggins case? Bet you the same will happen as well. "

No that isn't the case. Judge Goss has been assigned Velveeta's case and has heard motions. Judge Lockette has been assigned the Bakers' cases and has heard motions. No reasons for them to recuse, just like there are no apparent reasons for them to pass on Heard. Heard's case just doesn't rise to the level for passing. They also passed on Melissa Strother's case against Ginger Nickerson. They deferred to Joe Bishop of the Pataula Circuit. This doesn't make any sense.

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MRKIA 2 years, 2 months ago

VELVET IS AS GOOD AS GONE AND HEARD IS D.O.A.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

There is no inherent reason for these judges to recuse themselves or be recused. In a county as small as DoCo judges are going to know the citizens. If they are former partners or cousings or a member of the same supper club as a plaintiff or defendant or complainant that is a legitimate excuse or perhaps they have been in a fist fight with one of them. Simply because it involves the election board or a county position does not qualify. We need to know more why these judges were recused. Give this case to Loring Gray he'll give the parties a fair hearing and rule clearly on the law. This idea of institutionalizing prejudice in the judicial offices is a dangerous precedent and actually legitimatizes a claim for appellate purposes when otherwise it would be specious.

A comment was made comparing the case to a overly publicized murder case and it is not the same at all. Most murder cases go before a jury. The question becomes is there a tainted jury pool and is there justification/requirement for a change of venue to receive a fair trial. It does not affect the the judge necessarily unless he/she has been effected by substantive circumstance.

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nofreeloader 2 years, 2 months ago

Mr FryarTuk, my analogy of the publicized case was only a to make a comparison of" knowledge" of the current situation we have with heard . Not how a case is handled in our legal system. Of all the people that post comments, most seem to respect your opinion .I am one of those. We may never learn the reason of recuse but what ever it be , seems it was right to do so an let another judge hear the case else where. IMO . I believe any person that gives a good about whats going on with the BOE has a BIAS opinion of them . I for one could not have a UNBIASED opinion an maybe our fellow citizens in this case our judges do not feel they can either.
Thank you for all your great input. I was just trying to keep mine simple.

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FlunkyMonkey 2 years, 2 months ago

What if one of these judges sat heard a trial of the family members of one of these candidates? They could have the mindset that his/her family member was found guilty so I will help this one and guide the trial in their favor. What if one of these judges knew on of the candidates through a school function with their child or grand child? The candidate is a very nice person so I will guide the trial in their direction. What if one of these candidates had a campaign sign supporting one of these judges during a re-election campaign? What if one of these judges spoke at a civic luncheon where on of these candidates is a member? There are a hundred ways these judges have a potential conflict of interest. Seems to me they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they hear this case and Heard is allowed on the ballot, then the public will scream collusion since Heard didn't follow the rules. If they rule in favor of Lane Price, then they are biased because of color and this was racially motivated. They recuse themselves and they are called spineless. DAMNED IF THEY DO AND DAMED IF THEY DON'T....

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

I didn't call them spineless; I don't know them that well. I just don't think the issue here rises to the point of a blanket recusal an order apparently issued by the Sr. judge. It just seems to me that the law is or should be clear and arriving at a decision in hearing would be fairly uncomplicated. Does the law state the petition/application must be submitted? By a certain time? Does it have to be an original? Does the election officer have authority of discernment? Does the law require Xnumber of signatures in a prescribed format? Was the format used? Were the signatures in correct amount? Were the procedures of election office violated by any election official? I don't understand why the judges elevate Heard and this case? They shouldn't use recusal for political cover.

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dingleberry 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, why not have a stated reason for the recusal from of each judge? I suspect it is all more a matter of each judge knowing they will have to face the same electorate in the future and it is becoming, or already is, simply a black/white issue more than a legal issue.

The way things are going in DoCo, let's just set up a "tribunal" since the concept has worked so well with the CRCT "trials". lol

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 2 months ago

Flunky you said: "There are a hundred ways these judges have a potential conflict of interest" That's exactly the point. If they recuse themselves with every "potential" conflict of interest, they WOULD never try a case in small town USA!

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nofreeloader 2 years, 2 months ago

? how many times have they rescued themselves in doco?

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FryarTuk 2 years, 2 months ago

That's really not relevant. Heard's case just doesn't rise to the level for passing. The judges also passed on Melissa Strother's case against Ginger Nickerson. They deferred to Joe Bishop of the Pataula Circuit. It doesn't make any sense except to view this in the sense of political pragmatism. These judges need to handle these cases in the simple, direct fashion that nonsense should be addressed, as nonsense. The more these cases are treated by the judiciary as "walking on eggs," the more likely they will become self-fulfilling prophecies. Nickerson and the Elections Board should never have gone to the lengths they did. Their implied reasoning was to prevent lawsuits from being filed. Oh really? The attitude in government management in this community is crisis oriented because it is the devil's playhouse. Oh well, that's another peeve. Have a nice Labor Day!

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