speeding ticket

Walker County to judge: Pay 53 dismissed traffic tickets

Last October, State Court Judge Bruce E. Roberts filed a lawsuit complaining that Walker County, Ga., shorted him the amount of $72,000 in pay.

Officials replied last week that it is Roberts who needs to reimburse the county for he was responsible in dismissing 53 traffic cases on Aug. 3 after he lost his judgeship in the July 31 after the primary election to LaFayette, Ga., attorney Billy Mullinax.

According to the 20-page response filed by states County Attorney Don Oliver last Friday, Roberts threw out the tickets to potentially cause financial harm to the Walker County voters and taxpayers who had turned him out of office by a landslide margin of his opponent.

Oliver wrote that Roberts is liable to the county and its taxpayers for the amount of fines and forfeitures that would have been collected from those 53 cases, each of whom stood ready and willing to plead guilty at the time the cases were dismissed.

Oliver and Roberts prefer not to discuss the lawsuit before it’s heard in court.

Roberts said that when he dismissed the traffic tickets, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, and it would not happen again. In fact, he considered his action like an amnesty gesture. He continued that he doubts if the newly-elected judge will do that.

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Roberts on Oct. 30 to replace Judge C. Donald Peppers Sr., who retired. Roberts’ lawsuit demanded that he was entitled to earn Peppers’ $172,102 annual salary.

Roberts’ Summerville, Ga.-based attorney, Archibald Farrar Jr. argued that according to the Georgia Constitution, an incumbent judge’s salary can’t be reduced during the term of appointment.

Oliver replied that the salary of Robert was never reduced from the $100,000 annual salary Roberts agreed on with county Commissioner Bebe Heiskell.

Roberts had approached Heiskell to ask for the $184,000 annually that Roberts erroneously thought Peppers earned. Heiskell told Roberts that Peppers’ pay reflected his 26 years’ experience. So she told Roberts that if he wanted that level of salary of Walker County, he would have to sue the county to get it.

After hearing that, Roberts agreed to negotiate with Heiskell and he told Heiskell his annual salary as assistant District Attorney in Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit was $94,000.

Sometime in Oct. 1, 2012, Heiskell agreed to pay Roberts $100,000 annually, with a potential raise for merit and longevity.

However, when the county got Roberts’ federal W-2 forms; it showed that his annual pay in 2011 was $81,071 and in 2010 it was $85,297. Oliver alleged that Roberts committed “fraud in contract negotiations”.

Oliver stated that Peppers’ annual salary was $163,000 — not the $172,102 as claimed in Robert’s lawsuit.

Oliver also argued that when Roberts leaves his office in Dec. 31, he has failed to work full time, and the county is entitled to adjust Roberts’ salary to reflect his actual hours.

Judges of Walker County have excluded themselves from the case so it will be Senior Georgia Superior Courts Judge Larry Salmon, of Rome, Ga. Who will preside. A jury trial is tentatively scheduled for May 1.

If you have received a traffic ticket, please contact an experienced speeding ticket lawyers. Protect your right to drive legally

Source: Times Free Press Com
(http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/dec/12/walker-county-ga-to-judge-pay-53-dismissed-tickets)

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