Atlanta attorney Page Pate filed litigation in Fulton County Superior Court Friday, asking Judge Kelly Lee to issue a Writ of Mandamus instructing Governor Nathan Deal to do his job and convene a council charged with considering whether indicted Clayton County sheriff Victor Hill should be suspended from office pending the outcome of his criminal trial.
Simply put, a Writ of Mandamus is an order telling a person (in this case, Governor Deal) to do their job.
Governor Deal turned down a request from the Georgia Sheriff's Association to appoint a panel that would issue a recommendation on whether Clayton County sheriff Victor Hill should remain in office while he's charged with a litany of felonies. Deal, in a statement, said, "Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 45-5-6, the governor must appoint a three-member panel to investigate the indictment of a public official. The law defines 'public official' as 'any elected county officer.'
"Victor Hill was indicted on Feb. 29, 2012, at which time he was a private citizen and not an elected county officer. Therefore, state law prohibits the appointment of a suspension panel at this time."
Page Pate, who also serves as a legal analyst for WABE-FM, disagreed with Deal in a recent on-air appearance.
"There’s nothing in the statue to indicate that it matters when the public official was indicted because the whole point of this statue is to protect people in that particular county from having a sheriff who is currently under criminal indictment holding his office," Pate said.
"So I think by the plain clear language of the statue, the governor should appoint a panel and the panel needs to review the indictment to see if it affects adversely the ability of him to do his job while the case is pending. I do not understand the interpretation coming from the governor’s office."
The Petition for Writ of Mandamus (shown below) was filed on behalf of James Buckman; a Clayton County resident.