JONESBORO — Clayton County Superior Court Judge Aaron B. Mason refused to lift a temporary restraining order against Jonesboro Elections Superintendent Ricky L. Clark Jr. after a motion to dismiss was filed just before a hearing on the matter Friday.
Mason said he wanted time to “read and digest” a written response from attorney Vincent Russo, who represents plaintiff Billy Jarrett Miller in the matter.
Miller, who has owned Crane Hardware for 47 years, alleges he was not allowed to submit a qualifying packet for the mayoral race in Jonesboro’s Nov. 5 election. Published notices from the city varied as to the week, days and times for qualifying. The city closed qualifying and announced candidates on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
Russo said he would be happy to answer in writing the city’s motion to dismiss, but that he would need time to prepare it in between his other cases — including one about Georgia’s voting machines.
Attorneys for Clark, including Stephen Fincher, Winston Denmark and Danielle Matricardi, raised two issues — lack of service and sovereign immunity — in asking Mason to dismiss the case.
In response, Russo argued that sovereign immunity doesn’t include constitutional claims, and that Miller’s claims included equal protection and due process.
Clark’s team also expressed concern that delays could impact deadlines for inspecting and locking down voting machines. Mason noted a delay could cost the city money.
After consulting schedules, Mason ruled that the TPO would remain in force for now, and that he would not yet rule on Clark’s request to dismiss the case.
As of Tuesday, the next hearing was scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
Outside the courtroom, Russo said Clark’s legal team “had filed a motion to dismiss apparently today (Friday) .... They sprung that on us just now.” He added that Mason would address the motion to dismiss first, “since it goes to jurisdictional issues.”
Clark was not available for comment by press time.