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Judge guts Baker Grand Jury presentments

NEWTON -- South Georgia Judicial Circuit Judge Kevin Chason on Tuesday officially ended a six-month probe of the Baker County by taking the Grand Jury's four-page presentments and expunging the report to a mere three paragraphs.

In his sua sponte (of his own accord) order issued Tuesday, Chason wrote: "The Court finds that portion of the Grand Jury presentments of Jan. 13, 2012, the Court, redacted by the court and attached hereto as Exhibit A is proper and within the duties of a Grand Jury as set out by statute(s) and the remaining portions of said Grand Jury presentments are ultra vires (beyond powers).

"The Court orders that the Grand Jury presentment filed on Jan. 13, 2012, be expunged, struck and removed from the minutes of this court and this order be entered on the minutes of this court with Exhibit A hereto being entered as the presentment of Jan. 13, 2012."

School Board attorney Henry Williams was not surprised my Chason's ruling.

"I haven't even had time to file my motion to expunge, but I am not surprised by the judge's action," Williams said. "This is what happens when people with political agendas try to advance their cause by abusing the grand jury process. The judge deserves credit for recognizing this."

The controversy arose in July 2011 when South Georgia Circuit District Attorney Joe Mulholland, whose circuit includes Baker County, was approached by members of the Baker County Concerned Citizens for Education (BCCCE) in regard to expenditures by the school system.

The Grand Jury's original presentments were expunged by Chason and the grand jury was recalled, resulting in Friday's second set of presentments.

The second four-page grand jury presentment was later reduced by Chason to just the three paragraphs entered in Exhibit A, which reads:

"After reviewing the records we have received from the Baker County School Board, the Investigative Committee of the July 2011 Grand Jury finds that records appear to be kept so badly that it is almost impossible to determine at what we are actually looking.

"After reviewing minutes of School Board Meetings, the Committee finds that they are very incomplete. They have omitted or not included any record of appearances by individuals. The Committee believes that since they require 5 days notification and the person or group is included on the Agenda, that their appliance before the Board should at least be noted and comments about their reasons for appearing be included in the minutes. We also note there is only a record of items being voted on and votes cast. No record of discussion. The Grand Jury suggests that future Board Meetings be recorded and the recordings kept for future reference. The Grand Jury recommends the County School System develop a web site to include all meeting times and minutes of the meetings.

"The School Board Attorney should not attend Board Meetings more than quarterly, and only when the School System requires legal advice. He should only comment when asked about legal matters."

Calls to Chason and Mullholland requesting comment were not returned.

Comments

waltspecht 2 years, 2 months ago

Lets get this straight. There is a recognized problem with the Spending, and the way things are run. There isn't anyway to get an investigation started, so the Grand Jury tries to get some interest in the problem. The Judge simply says they exceeded their authority, and doesn't call for an investigation into the cause of this breach of authority by a group of Citizens selected to serve in the capacity of the Grand Jury. Somewhere something doesn't smell quite right. However, if you know anything about Baker County, you know why there aren't any Railroad Tracks in it. Political influence has a long and storied history there.

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Stunnedcitizen 2 years, 2 months ago

I do agree with you Waltspecht. It is my understanding that this Grand Jury also ordered an audit based on the evidence they found with the spending .... (according to the presentment public records) ... hummmmm, makes you wonder who got to who - but someone definetly doesn't want these spending records to be made public. To the people in Baker County - you might want to get involved!!! What is so baffling is that in this county even the Grand Jury is made mockery of - is there no justice - or should I say - There is justice every else except in Baker County!!!

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