Hall County Superior Court Judge C. Andrew Fuller will preside over a lawsuit filed by the town of Clermont against Hall County after another judge ruled he should not be recused.
Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Debra Turner ruled this week Fuller could be fair-minded and impartial in presiding over the lawsuit, which accuses Hall County of reneging on a promise to build a sales tax-funded library in Clermont.
Clermont officials have argued Fuller could not be impartial because he and the circuit’s other three superior court judges are each paid an annual salary supplement of $53,000 by Hall County.
In her order, Turner wrote Clermont officials did not give a sufficient reason to overcome “the presumption that a trial judge acting as a public official, faithfully and lawfully performs the duties devolving upon him.”
Among Fuller’s first duties in the case will be to rule on Clermont’s motion for a temporary injunction that would prevent the construction of a Nopone Road library branch in North Hall. Clermont council members maintained the Nopone Road plans violate the purpose of a voter-approved special purpose sales tax. Hall County says it made no guarantees to Clermont in the SPLOST package.
R. David Syfan, the attorney representing Clermont, said Tuesday his clients were glad to see the case will now be moving. All matters were put on hold until the issue of what judge would hear the case was decided.
“From our viewpoint, we’re glad the case is out of neutral, and now we’ve got a clear direction and it will allow us to move forward with a resolution of the case, one way or the other,” Syfan said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to schedule a hearing on pending motions soon, depending on the schedule of the judge.”
Bill Blalock, the attorney representing Hall County, said previous appellate court rulings made it clear that salary supplements were not sufficient grounds to find a judge would be impartial. Blalock said Turner’s ruling “appears to be a well-thought-out and well-written order and is correct in law, as far as we’re concerned.”