A Houston County judge denied a request to appoint a “special master” to examine whether the city of Warner Robins violated open records laws, as a lawsuit against the city claims.
In his March 29 order, Houston County Superior Court Judge George F. Nunn denied the request by Allison Equities Inc., an Atlanta-based mortgage lender that is suing the city.
“I have reviewed the Open Records Statute and frankly I do not see the need for a Special Master in this case,” Nunn wrote in his order.
He went on to write that whether the city violated open records laws is for him to decide.
“I think I would be best served by hearing the evidence firsthand myself rather than receiving the report from a Special Master, and the simplest and quickest way to do that would simply be to have what I hope would be a non-jury trial at some time mutually convenient for all parties,” Nunn wrote.
He estimated a trial would take two to three days.
The lawsuit, filed in 2009, claims Warner Robins officials violated the state Open Records Act when they failed to provide Allison Equities Inc., which owns property in Warner Robins, access to records it requested under the law.
Nunn heard arguments for a motion for a special master March 3.
John Smith, attorney for Allison Equities Inc., argued an independent third party needed to examine the case.
He had requested Mike Bowers, a former state attorney general, be appointed as special master.
“I respect (the judge’s) decision,” Smith said Wednesday. “I can’t say that I’m not disappointed.”
Attorney Thomas Richardson, who is representing the city, had called the appointment unwarranted and unnecessary.
“We’re pleased with the decision,” Richardson said Wednesday. “We never thought a special master was necessary.”
Richardson said a non-jury trial is the simplest and most economical way to resolve the dispute.
To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.