AUGUSTA, Ga. – The lawsuit claims Columbia County’s split from the Augusta Judicial Circuit is unconstitutional. The lawsuit also claims the purpose of the split was to keep an African American from being the District Attorney for Columbia County.
Jack Long who is representing Attorney Willie Saunders the person who filed the suit. Long says the passing of the split nullifies the vote of the plaintiff and other African American citizens in Columbia county who voted for Jared Williams. “The legislature does not have the power to override the vote of the people. And that is true for all branches of government.”
According to Columbia County the reason for the split is to save cost. County leaders say it will save close to 1 million dollars but Long doesn’t believe that is true.
“That has been debunked. The financial study that has been done shows it will cost all three counties. And then Columbia County goes and gets 2.3 million dollars from the state budget but they don’t go up and say ‘by the way give some to Richmond County, give some to Burke County,” said Long. So if it’s not money, what is it? Long says it is race.
Augusta Commissioner Dennis Williams about the lawsuit. He says Augusta signed a resolution in support of the split because it had no authority or power to change Columbia County’s decision.
“Soon as we had a black DA in office they jumped up and changed the rules to the game. Now nobody can truly say that its definitely an issue of race but it gives that impression,” said Commissioner Williams.
Which raises the next question, how hard is it to prove if the split was racially motivated?
“Well race discrimination is very difficult to prove and voter discrimination under the voting rights act is difficult. But just because its difficult doesn’t mean it cant be done,” said Long.