Judge orders temporary hold on Augusta Judicial split

Senior Judge Gail S. Tusan issued a 30-day temporary restraining order June 15 preventing the Augusta Judicial split from moving forward with its plans.

Tusan was presiding over the civil lawsuit filed by Attorney Willie Saunders April 28, which names Burke, Columbia and Richmond Counties along with Governor Brian Kemp as the defendants.

The judge ordered the counties to “immediately cease activities in the furtherance of the implementation of Senate Bill 9 and the creation of the Judicial Circuit for Columbia County,” in order to “preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable harm to the plaintiff and the public served by defendant counties.”

Senate Bill 9, passed by the General Assembly in January, authorized the split to take place July 1.

Tusan took over the case after the Augusta circuit judges recused themselves. Tusan has been removed from the case by way of a June 21 order, after Burke County expressed concerns over a possible conflict of interest associated with Tusan’s relationship with the Attorney General’s office.

Burke County has asked to be removed from the lawsuit as a named defendant. The County has never officially sided with or against the split but did ask for it to be delayed initially, pending an economic impact study.

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