Continuing down the rabbit hole in the Bibb Monroe border dispute

January 25, 2013 

We are puzzled. Last January, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly A. Lee, ruled that Bibb County had a right to intervene in a motion filed by Monroe County in the ongoing, never ending border dispute, saying, “... the intervenor (Bibb County) has an interest in this action, that disposition of this action may impair or impede its ability to protect that interest, and that said interest is not adequately represented by existing parties (Attorney General and Secretary of State).”

Fast forward to Oct. 23, 2012. Monroe County filed a Writ of Mandamus in the same Superior Court with the same judge. Bibb County was not notified of the motion until after Judge Lee announced she planned to order Secretary of State Brian Kemp to use the Scarborough survey that found acres of land to be in Monroe County, not Bibb.

When apprised of the judge’s intentions by this newspaper, Virgil Adams filed another motion to intervene. This time, however, the judge denied the motion. Monroe County’s October petition was virtually the same, by their own admission, as its January petition. Still the judge ruled opposing her own January decision. And she ruled against the Secretary of State and has ordered him to use the Scarborough survey that he’s already thrown out. Go figure.

What comes next? Surely, the Secretary of State’s office will appeal the decision and Bibb County will appeal the judge’s decision not to allow it to intervene. Both cases should land on the Georgia Court of Appeals docket at the same time because they are inextricably linked.

This case could very well end up in Georgia’s Supreme Court. The law gives the Secretary of State authority to make findings of fact and decision-making powers in border disputes. It will be up to the state’s highest court to decide if a Superior Court can order the Secretary of State to do anything. It has been said that this case from hell could outlive the lawyers doing battle.

Even if Monroe County eventually wins with a survey that places a Bibb County island in the disputed area (Which makes no sense at all), the lawsuits will continue to fly. Bibb County has millions of dollars in infrastructure in that area and questions of which county would have to pay off those bonds would still need answers. One thing is for sure, even with the additional tax money Monroe County would receive from the disputed area if it wins, it will take decades for it to reap a return on investment with legal fees already exceeding $2 million, with more bills to come.

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