Understanding the definition of ‘assume’

January 11, 2013 

One of the common definitions of the word “assume” according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary is: “To take as granted or true.” There is another, however, slang phrase that in the case of the continuing border dispute between Bibb and Monroe counties that seems appropriate. “When you assume, it makes an __ out of you and me.

The legal counsel for Secretary of State Brian Kemp apparently assumed Bibb County was duly notified of a writ of Mandamus filed in Fulton County’s Superior Court. That writ essentially orders Secretary Kemp to accept the survey performed by Terry Scarborough that he had already rejected. The Attorney General’s office also assumed Bibb County had been notified of the Oct. 23 filing.

In their defense, both counsels had every reason to believe Bibb County had been notified by Monroe County. In Monroe County’s filing, there is a “Notice of Related Case” that basically states the filing was pretty much the same as the one dismissed (Monroe County v. Kemp 1) by the same Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Lee in September 2012. Monroe County’s attorneys included in that document, “Monroe County expects that Bibb County will seek to intervene” as it did in the Monroe County v. Kemp 1 filing.

Was Bibb County notified when the writ of Mandamus was filed on Oct. 23, 2012? No. Was Bibb County notified of the hearing this week? No.

Bibb County filed an emergency motion to intervene Thursday, and there is no reason to believe it won’t be granted, but this border dispute has been going on since 2004 and every step of the way gets more bizarre, Even if Bibb County is not allowed to intervene and the writ gets the judge’s final approval, that action would only open up a new can of worms that would have to be sorted out by the Georgia Court of Appeals and ultimately, Georgia’s Supreme Court.

The very definition of Mandamus “a writ or order that is issued from a court of superior jurisdiction that commands an inferior tribunal. ...” sets up a fight. We are sure the Secretary of State’s office doesn’t consider itself inferior to a Fulton County Superior Court.

In the end, Monroe County has doubled down, figuring after spending $2 million of taxpayer money, it was obligated to spend a few hundred thousand dollars extra on a rope-a-dope maneuver that doesn’t befit the reputation of King & Spalding.

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