Justia Georgia Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Election Law
Grogan v. City of Dawsonville
The Dawsonville City Council voted to remove W. James Grogan as mayor in May 2017. Grogan sought review of the removal by filing a direct appeal and a petition for certiorari with the superior court. Grogan continued to serve as mayor pending the appeal, and the City then filed counterclaims against Grogan for attorneys’ fees and for money had and received to recoup salary paid and other benefits provided to Grogan if the City prevailed before the superior court. Grogan moved to dismiss the City’s counterclaims under Georgia's Anti-SLAPP statute. The superior court dismissed Grogan’s appeal of the removal decision, found his certiorari petition was “procedurally defective,” denied his motion to dismiss the City’s counterclaims, and granted partial summary judgment on the City’s money-had-and-received counterclaim. Grogan argued to the Georgia Supreme Court he had the right to a direct appeal to the superior court and that his certiorari petition was not procedurally defective. Grogan also argued the superior court erred in denying his motion to dismiss under the Anti-SLAPP statute because the City’s counterclaims were filed to punish Grogan for exercising his constitutional rights to petition and free speech and the City did not establish a reasonable probability of success on the merits of those counterclaims. Furthermore, Grogan argued the court erred in granting relief to the City on its money-had-and-received counterclaim because it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over that claim and failed to apply the voluntary payment doctrine. The Supreme Court concluded it had jurisdiction over this appeal, but did not consider Grogan’s challenges concerning the superior court’s dismissal of his appeal and certiorari petition from the removal decision because those claims were now moot. The Court determined the trial court erred in granting relief to the City on its money-had-and-received counterclaim. View "Grogan v. City of Dawsonville" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Election Law, Government & Administrative Law
Williams v. Heard
In an election contest for a seat on the Baker County Board of Education, the Georgia Supreme Court granted the application for interlocutory appeal filed by Brendette Williams, who challenged the trial court’s denial of her motion to dismiss the contest petition filed by Sharon Heard, her opponent in the primary election. The Court concluded Heard’s challenge to the primary election was now moot, and therefore vacated the trial court’s order and remanded this case for the contest action to be dismissed. Furthermore, the Court concluded that because the trial judge did not meet the requirements of OCGA 21-2-523 (b) to preside over this action, upon remand, a judge meeting such requirements had to be selected to preside over entry of the dismissal. View "Williams v. Heard" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Election Law
De La Fuente v. Kemp
Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente submitted a nomination petition to the Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, seeking to have his name placed upon the ballot for the 2016 general election as an independent candidate for President of the United States. That same day, De La Fuente also filed notices of candidacy for his slate of presidential electors. The Secretary of State rejected the notices of candidacy because they were submitted eleven days after the deadline set forth in OCGA 21-2-132 (d) (1). The Secretary of State also rejected the nomination petition, finding that the counties had verified only 2,964 of the signatures submitted with the petition, a number far short of the 7,500 verified signatures needed to validate the petition pursuant to a recent federal court order. After a superior court dismissed De La Fuente's subsequent lawsuit, the matter was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. Finding no reversible error in the superior court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of De La Fuente's suit. View "De La Fuente v. Kemp" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Election Law
Meade v. Williamson
Appellant Dana Meade and Appellee Tim Williamson were the candidates on the ballot in a run-off election in the Democratic primary for Sheriff of Baker County. Meade was the incumbent in the race and was, at the time of the election, serving as Sheriff. Meade was declared the winner by a margin of 39 votes. Williamson contested the results of the election. After a bench trial, the trial court issued an order setting forth findings of fact and reaching the conclusion that sufficient irregularities in voting and in the election process were shown to cast doubt upon the election result. The election was declared invalid and a new election was ordered. The Supreme Court has set aside elections under two different circumstances: where the evidence showed that a sufficient number of electors voted illegally or were irregularly recorded in the contest being challenged to change or cast doubt upon the election; or where systemic irregularities in the process of the election were sufficiently egregious to cast doubt on the result. The evidence presented at trial met neither of these standards. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's order invalidating the August 21, 2012 run-off election in the Democratic primary for Sheriff of Baker County. View "Meade v. Williamson" on Justia Law
Cook v. Board of Registrars of Randolph County
Henry Cook appealed the trial court's ruling that he was not a resident of Randolph County and therefore not an elector qualified to vote in that county. The court granted Cook's application for discretionary appeal and directed the parties to address the court's jurisdiction over this appeal as well as the merits of the trial court's ruling. Because a determination of voter qualifications, not clearly linked to a particular election, did not bring an appeal within the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over "cases of election contest," and because no other basis for this court's jurisdiction appeared to exist, the court transferred the case to the Court of Appeals and did not reach the merits. View "Cook v. Board of Registrars of Randolph County" on Justia Law
Hilliard v. Baldwin et al.
Appellant appealed the trail court's dismissal of her action contesting the outcome of the August 10, 2010 Stewart County primary election in which she was an unsuccessful candidate. Appellant filed the election contest on August 18, the general election took place on November 2, and the candidate who defeated appellant in the primary was certified as the winner of the election. The court held that appellant's appeal was moot where an election contest challenging the results of a primary election became moot after the general election had taken place and where appellant did not quickly seek statutorily-sanctioned supersedeas and/or an expedited appeal.