A former Bibb County associate magistrate’s federal whistle-blower suit has been resolved in a settlement.
Terms of the settlement between John R. Watts and Chief Magistrate William C. “Billy” Randall have not been released.
Watts filed suit in 2008, claiming that his appointment wasn’t renewed in 2006 because he’d exposed the fact that two other magistrates had accepted illegal “love offerings” for performing weddings during work hours. Randall was sued both personally and in his official capacity.
Contacted Wednesday, Watts would say only, “It’s been resolved.”
He referred all other questions to his attorney, Bernadette Crucilla. Crucilla confirmed that the parties had reached a “confidential settlement,” but she declined to divulge details or give further comment.
Steve Layson, Bibb County’s chief administrative officer, referred questions about the settlement to county attorneys, saying the settlement “hasn’t been totally finalized.”
Jimmy Jordan, one of the attorneys representing Randall, said an appeal is still pending in the case. He declined to comment further.
Phone messages left for Randall at Bibb County Magistrate Court on Wednesday were not returned.
U.S. District Judge Ashley Royal dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday in response to a motion for dismissal filed by Crucilla on Watts’ behalf, according to federal court records.
Besides seeking relief as a whistle-blower, Watts, 58, also claimed that Randall had discriminated against him based on his sex and age. Royal dismissed the sex and age discrimination portion of the lawsuit and claims against the Bibb County government in September.
A secretary was prosecuted in connection with a 2004 “love offering” scandal and received a suspended sentence and four years on probation.
Criminal cases initially were pursued, but they were ultimately dismissed against two magistrates.
One of the judges, Selinda D. Handsford, was reappointed as a magistrate in January, but Bibb County Superior Court judges later revoked their consent for her appointment.
Randall has said he didn’t mention the “love offering” scandal to the Superior Court judges when he submitted Handsford’s name for the appointment because he didn’t see the need.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.