Judge appointed to hear Renaud suit against three commissioners and Tobar

A Superior Court senior judge has been appointed to hear the legal challenge made by a former Grady County commissioner who was barred last fall from attending meetings of the Grady County Commission.
Judge C. Dane Perkins of Nashville was appointed to hear the suit. Judge Perkins was appointed by Judge Stephen S. Goss, administrative judge of the second judicial administrative district, after both Grady Superior Chief Judge J. Kevin Chason and Judge Heather Lanier recused themselves from the matter.
Upon his recent appointment, Judge Perkins has ordered a status update in the matter to be received by the court within two weeks.
Charles Renaud, a former county commissioner, filed suit Dec. 19, 2017 against Grady County Commission Chairman Ray Prince, Vice Chairman T.D. David and Commissioner LaFaye Copeland after the trio voted last Dec. 12 to bar him from commission meetings. Commissioners June Knight and Keith Moye voted against the sanction. Former Grady County administrator Carlos Tobar is also a named defendant in the case for his role in the barring of Renaud.
A contingent of Grady County Sheriff’s Office personnel greeted Renaud when he arrived to attend a joint meeting of the county commission and Grady County Lake Authority on Tuesday, Dec. 12, and served him with a notice of trespass signed by former Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar.
Much later in the Dec. 12 meeting, the commissioners discussed the barring and voted in a public meeting, 3-2, to bar the former commissioner from the commission meetings for a period of six months.
The commission’s Dec. 12 action followed a Dec. 5 meeting during which Renaud became visibly upset and shouted comments to the commission before being escorted out of the board room by a Grady County Sheriff’s deputy.
After further investigation, Grady County Sheriff’s Deputy Clay S. Murphy reported that Tobar had mislead authorities about the board’s action to bar Renaud. Allegations that Renaud had thrown out his coffee in the foyer of the courthouse were proven untrue, as well, according to the deputy, who reviewed the courthouse surveillance tape.
Grady County commissioners rescinded the barring action in January on the advice of legal counsel.
Renaud is being represented by Cairo attorney K. Todd Butler and the three commissioners and Tobar are being represented Thomasville attorney Raleigh Rollins, who was appointed by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the county’s insurance provider.
A motion to dismiss has been filed on behalf of the commissioners and Tobar and Butler has filed a response.
The defendants are arguing that facts established by Renaud do not rise to the level of federal constitution violations and to the extent that they do the county commissioners and Tobar have qualified immunity for those acts.
However, Butler, on behalf of the plaintiff, is arguing that the county officials acted outside of their authority and that Renaud’s rights to engage in free speech were clearly violated.
A hearing date before Judge Perkins has not been scheduled.

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