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Greg BluesteinJim Galloway

Georgia Supreme Court confirms Nathan Deal’s right to fill new court vacancies

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georgiasupremecourt

Over at the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Dave Williams reports that the Supreme Court of Georgia has confirmed Gov. Nathan Deal’s authority to fill three new positions on the state Court of Appeals:

Five citizens, including the head of the NAACP, filed a lawsuit last year arguing the new judgeships should be filled by a statewide election.

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But in a 6-1 decision, the high court declared that newly created positions on the Court of Appeals qualify as “vacancies” under the Georgia Constitution.

 “Vacancies shall be filled by appointment of the governor except as otherwise provided by law in the magistrate, probate, and juvenile courts,” Justice Harold Melton wrote in Tuesday’s majority opinion, quoting the constitution. “Therefore, the constitution clearly allows the governor to appoint new judges when there is a vacancy on the Court of Appeals.”

Deal filled the vacancies last October, appointing: Brian Rickman, a district attorney from north Georgia; former state solicitor-general Nels Peterson; and attorney Amanda Mercier.

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On Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill that will give MARTA a chance to broaden its transit operations within the city limits of Atlanta.

Which in and of itself is a big deal. But perhaps a bigger deal: Being willing to endorse said transit operation with your own Republican mug. The bumper sticker being held by the governor reads “I’d rather be riding MARTA”:

AJC/Special

Robbie Ashe(left), chairman of the MARTA board, Gov. Nathan Deal, and Keith Parker, CEO of MARTA. AJC/Special

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The nasty race between state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, and his GOP primary challenger is getting more so.

The contest has so far been punctuated by claims of false endorsements and accusations of slander  and using fake newspaper headlines in one of the testiest match-ups of the May 24 primary.

Beach’s campaign now is questioning whether Aaron Barlow is a resident of the north Fulton district, and pointed to court filings that showed he listed a Chicago address as his home in 2014.

“This Barlow fellow is a nasty piece of work.  Puppies run away from him,” said Beach consultant Dan McLagan, a veteran GOP operative. “He makes his fellow Chicagoans Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama look like honest politicians.”

Barlow shot back with an unusual piece of evidence to prove he’s been in Georgia since 2004 — the birth certificates of his two daughters attesting they were born at Northside Hospital. He also sent a utility bill that shows he lived in Milton since 2011, though he said he was gone for stretches between 2013-2015 for business.

“My opponent claims that I am from Chicago, and have never lived in Georgia except for the last eight months,” he said. “This is clearly untrue.”

We’ve got the documents, but they’re chockfull of personal info, and so we will hold them close to us.

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In DeKalb County, Solicitor-General Sherry Boston has picked the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson in her bid to unseat incumbent District Attorney Robert James, says Boston campaign spokesman Michael Hassinger, who provided this as evidence:

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The most interesting line from the press release:

“DeKalb County needs new leadership in the office of District Attorney. We deserve someone who knows the law, respects the law, applies the law fairly and consistently, and above all else—abides by the law themselves,” said Johnson in a written statement.

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On one hand, House GOP leaders and certain lobbyists have rallied around state Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody, who was arrested on DUI charges last month. On the other, Taylor continues his apology tour with this piece in the Dunwoody Crier:

The past several weeks have been among the most difficult in my life. I made a serious error in judgment, and I will face the consequences of that decision. I feel guilt and regret, and these feelings are magnified by public exposure that comes with holding an elected office. To put it mildly, this is a challenge, and challenges require new thinking, change and perseverance.

I’ve experienced an abrupt wake-up call, and it’s certainly brought to the forefront an issue that I needed to confront for some time, for the sake of my family, my constituents, my colleagues and, last but not least, myself.

I have sought an evaluation of my issue that has guided me to enter a treatment path that best meets my needs.