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Judge dissolves Hill's TRO

By Justin Boron

A judge dissolved Sheriff-elect Victor Hill's temporary restraining order Friday, clearing the way for the county commission to act on a measure that would move two crucial Sheriff's Department investigative units to county police supervision.

Hill's injunction had blocked the commission from transferring the Sheriff Department's crime scene investigations and narcotics unit almost two weeks earlier.

"I ruled that it was legislative and not judicial," said Senior Superior Court Judge Byron Smith.

Hill had enjoined the commission at its Nov. 2 business meeting, saying the transfer was an attempt to narrow his authority before he entered office.

The injunction spawned weeks of debate over his legal standing to protest the transfer.

But after each side made their arguments, Smith decided the issue was pinned down on the judiciary's lack of jurisdiction.

Jack Hancock, the attorney for the Board of Commissioners, had argued that the judiciary could not rule on legislation while it was being enacted.

"What is happening here is (Hill) is asking the court to become the county the issue," he said at a Nov. 4 court hearing.

In his brief filed Wednesday, he cited a 1966 court case that said, " ?(A) judicial power will not be exerted . . . to stay the course of legislation while it is in the process of enactment."

County Commission Chairman Crandle Bray said he was pleased but not surprised by the order.

"It happened just like we said it was going to," he said.

Bray said the item would likely be on the agenda for Tuesday's business meeting, adding there was little room for compromise with Hill, who had defined Bray as an adversary in the conflict.

Bray maintained that the transfer of the two units had nothing to do with Hill.

"We've got to do what's right for the people," he said. "It has nothing to do with Hill."

Logistical problems, not personal tension, had spurred the move to transfer the crime scene investigations unit, he said, citing occasions of a six hour response time.

But Hill asked why transfer it now, just as the sheriff, who oversees the slow response, is leaving office.

"If Crandle moves the crime scene unit, it's still a personal thing," Hill said. "If he really felt that way, he had 12 years as commission chairman to move it."

His attorneys, Zenobia Carter and Morris P. Fair, will be studying the appeal process this weekend, and possibly file for an appeal early Monday, he said.

Regardless of what happens, Hill said he would still make good on his campaign promise to fight drugs in Clayton County.

"The district attorney and I will start our own drug task force," he said.

Hill also said once in office, he plans to pursue a "disparate treatment" lawsuit against Bray.