ALBANY, Ga. — The attorney who represented the Albany-Dougherty Board of Registration and Elections in a suit brought and dismissed by Dougherty School Board candidate the Rev. Lorenzo Heard has asked for and received permission to seek attorneys fees from Heard.
Dawson attorney Ed Collier told the Elections Board at its November meeting Wednesday evening that he felt the board was entitled to attorneys fees because of the nature of the case filed by Heard and dropped after two days of testimony. He also accused Heard and his representatives of wrongly demeaning staff in the Elections office.
"Our staff were right on the money in (handling Heard's qualifying application)," Collier said. "We went through two days of court hearings before (Heard) subsequently dismissed his suit, and it is my suggestion that you allow me to ask the judge if you are entitled to attorney's fees in this case.
"The taxpayers of Dougherty County are paying me to represent your best interests, and I recommend that you allow me to seek these fees on your behalf. (Heard's attorneys) blasted our Elections staff in court, and their agent testified unequivacably that the (qualifying application) he filed (on Heard's behalf) was a copy, just as we contended all along. Our staff was right on the money."
Elections Board member Commodore Conyers asked Collier if seeking the funds would make further court action necessary.
"Absolutely not," Collier answered. "I have 45 days to file a motion asking that my costs, which have already been paid by the county, be paid instead by (Heard). I will say that these matters are highly discretionary with the judge. As strongly as I feel that the county is entitled to the fees, if we were to lose I would not recommend that you appeal. Rarely are decisions handed down by a judge in such a case overturned on appeal.
"I don't want to see our Elections staff drug through any more mud, and that would not happen (if Collier sought the fees). A decision would be made by the judge."
Superior Court Judge J. Richard Porter III of the South Georgia Judicial Circuit heard testimony in the case after judges in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit voluntarily recused themselves from hearing the case.