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Hearing in Renaud’s suit against three commissioners, Tobar is Sept. 14

Grady County’s legal representative in a lawsuit filed by former county commissioner Charles Renaud has filed a motion to dismiss the suit and a hearing date on the motion has been set.
Renaud’s attorney, K. Todd Butler, told The Messenger this week that a hearing on the county’s motion to dismiss will be held on Friday, Sept. 14, beginning at 3:30 p.m. in the main courtroom of the Grady County Courthouse.
Senior Superior Court Judge Carson Dane Perkins of the Alapaha Circuit has been assigned the case after Grady Superior Court Judges J. Kevin Chason and Heather Lanier both recused themselves from the matter.
Judge Perkins retired from full-time service on Dec. 31, 2016, ending a 43-year career in the practice of law and the judiciary.
The county is being represented by Thomasville attorney Raleigh Rollins.
According to Butler, the Sept. 14 proceedings will strictly be the two attorneys arguing the law before the judge and no witnesses will be called to testify.
“This is strictly a hearing on the county’s motion to dismiss,” Butler said.
Renaud’s attorney said he is hopeful he will prevail and the case will move forward and discovery and interviewing of witnesses can begin.
The board of commissioners had originally barred Renaud from attending public meetings for six months on a vote of 3-2 on Dec. 12, 2017.
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 that Tuesday, Dec. 12, and served him with a notice of trespass signed by then 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 commission meetings for a period of six months. Chairman Ray Prince, Vice Chairman David and Commissioner Copeland voted in favor of the barring and Commissioners Moye and Knight opposed.
On Dec. 19, 2017, a lawsuit against Prince, David, Copeland and Tobar was filed in Grady Superior Court by Butler.
“The right of the people to participate in their government is one of the most important rights an American has. Mr. Prince, Mr. David and Ms. Copeland were wrong to ban Mr. Renaud from attending public meetings. We hope they know that now. It’s a shame they did the right thing only after Mr. Renaud hired a lawyer,” Butler said in January.
The commission’s Dec. 12, 2017 action followed a Dec. 5, 2017 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.
Renaud’s suit does not challenge the board’s right to have him removed on Dec. 5. However, his attorney is challenging the commissioners’ authority to bar a citizen from a public meeting.
After further investigation, Grady County Sheriff’s Deputy Clay S. Murphy wrote in his report that Tobar had mislead authorities about the board’s action to bar Renaud. Allegations that Renaud had poured out his coffee in the foyer of the courthouse were proven untrue, as well, according to the deputy, who reviewed the courthouse surveillance tape.
At a Dec. 14, 2017, called meeting, commissioners discussed rescinding their barring action, but Chairman Prince requested a vote not be held until the board could meet with Renaud.
The board then attempted to schedule a closed door meeting with Renaud and his lawyer on Dec. 19, but Renaud and Butler declined due to the question of whether such a meeting violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

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