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Former BOE member awaiting domestic abuse charges

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The fate of one of two legal battles facing former Clayton County Board of Education member Norreese Haynes will remain uncertain.

Haynes was scheduled to appear in Cobb County State Court to answer domestic abuse charges, stemming from a Dec. 2, 2007 incident with a roommate with whom he shared a Marietta apartment. He showed up for an arraignment hearing on Friday, but the Cobb County Solicitor General's office had not filed any charges against him.

Haynes' attorneys are optimistic that the lack of charges, at this point, means the issue may be resolved, although the Cobb County Solicitor General's Office has two years to file charges.

"I'll come to court a million times as long as they don't charge my client," said Benjamin Davis, one of Haynes' attorneys.

Haynes, who also is involved in a legal battle in Clayton County to reclaim his board seat, allegedly slapped and choked his roommate, Juan Green, during an argument over missing condoms, according to a Marietta Police report. Green also told police Haynes was his "live-in boyfriend of five years." However, Haynes claimed the fight was over a woman with whom both men were involved.

Attorney Davis said he believes the Cobb Solicitor General's Office has not moved to charge Haynes with anything because the case is "weak," since Green may not be willing to testify against Haynes.

"The police chose to arrest first, and ask questions later," Davis said. "They [officials from the solicitor general's office] didn't arrest him, the police did."

Annette Pedigo, the assistant solicitor general assigned to Haynes' case, would not comment Friday, except to say the case is still under investigation.

Meanwhile, Haynes will appear in Clayton County Superior Court on Wednesday, as his quest to return to the board continues. Fellow board members declared his seat vacant in March after Clayton County police investigators determined Haynes has not lived in the county for several years.

He is seeking to stop a July 15 special election in which voters will be asked to select his replacement on the board. His first request for a temporary restraining order to stop the election was denied, because it was directed at the board of education, and not at the Clayton County Board of Elections, which will oversee the special election.

Haynes said his attorneys in that case will re-file the request by Wednesday to add Annie Bright, director of the board of elections, to the list of defendants.

"It's a bad day for the people of District 8, because there is no one representing them on the board," Haynes said. "They elected me to serve them, but the other board members didn't want me around, so they got rid of me."

The Clayton County Police investigation was initiated at the request of Eldrin Bell, chairman of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, after media reports began to surface about Haynes' assault on Green.

Haynes claimed he only kept the apartment in Marietta while he took classes at the University of Phoenix, which has a campus in Marietta. He said he stayed at the apartment in Marietta on rare occasions when he got out of class late at night. Haynes said his main address was a room he rented in a house in Morrow.

An investigation conducted by Secretary of State Karen Handel's office concluded Haynes lived in his district when he was elected in 2006, and still lived in his district this spring. An investigator from Handel's office questioned a key witness who told Clayton County police officers Haynes was not staying at the Morrow house.

The investigator determined the witness could not be viewed as credible, because she changed her story multiple times.