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District attorney, husband sued for $1 million

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Clayton County District Attorney Jewel Scott and her husband, candidate for the County Commission Chairman's seat, Lee Scott, are being sued for more than $1 million.

Earl Randall, a candidate for the chairmanship, who used to work as the district attorney's chief of staff, filed the law suit on Monday afternoon, alleging he was fired from his job in an act of political retaliation and suppression.

Randall was fired right before Christmas. Jewel Scott reportedly said he was campaigning while on the job, but Randall maintains he was fired because he was running against Lee Scott in the 2008 election.

"Within days of filing his Declaration of Intent [to run for county chairman], Randall learned that Lee Scott was very angry," according to the suit. "Lee Scott was observed slamming his fist into a table at Fridays Restaurant while eating lunch with Jewel Scott and several employees of the CCDA. Lee Scott was heard screaming at Jewel Scott that the CCDA was his house and he ran his house. He paid $250,000 for Jewel Scott's election."

According to the lawsuit, written by William J. Atkins, Randall's attorney, Randall told Jewel Scott that he was running before Lee Scott decided to run, and she supported the decision, saying she didn't want her husband in the race and Randall would be an ally if he could beat incumbent chairman, Eldrin Bell. Things changed, Atkins wrote, when Lee Scott decided he was going to run against Bell, even though he had run and lost in 2004.

"Lee Scott threatened that if Randall did not get out of the race, then Randall was his enemy and he destroys his enemies," according to the suit. "Lee Scott turned to Jewel Scott and asked her to fire Randall before candidate qualifying ... Lee Scott stated, 'I want him fired now.'"

Candidate qualifying for the upcoming primary began on Monday, the same day the suit was filed. Both Lee Scott and Randall have qualified to run for county chairman.

Jewel Scott described the lawsuit as "frivolous."

She declined to comment any further on the matter Tuesday, saying she had not been served any papers.

Lee Scott said there was "no way he could make any comment."

Randall maintains his firing was politically motivated and violated his civil rights to "freely engage in political expression," and that Lee Scott, a private citizen, exercised "undue influence" over the district attorney's office and caused Randall's termination.

Since the firing, the 50-year-old Randall said he has been unable to find employment, because of the firing and has been working part-time as a security officer and substitute teacher. He has, according to the suit, had to cancel a number of campaign functions because he's struggling to find work.

According to the lawsuit, Randall has lost wages of about $30,000, suffered "other economic damages" of more than $20,000.

The Scotts' actions were "willful, deliberate, and malicious, thereby entitling Randall to an award of punitive damages" of more than $1 million, according to the suit.

The attorney representing Randall has previously battled the district attorney and her husband. Atkins represented Donald Hood, the former director of the county's maintenance department, who was charged with stealing an American flag intended for the memorial of a fallen police officer.

In that case, Atkins alleged the district attorney's office was prosecuting -- and not prosecuting -- cases based on political considerations. Atkins accused the district attorney of making up the charges against Hood in an attempt to gain information that would be helpful in going after political rivals. Jewel Scott responded with allegations Hood had carried out a sustained campaign of graft and threatened to take away his retirement benefits.

Hood killed himself on Feb. 29.

In the weeks following his death, both Jewel Scott and Atkins accused each other of pushing the 62-year-old to the point of suicide.

With this lawsuit, Atkins repeats his central theme in attacking Jewel Scott, saying her office has been corrupted by politics.

The case is scheduled to be heard by Superior Court Judge Deborah Benefield, and the file was in her office on Tuesday morning.