Judge says judicial candidate disqualified over taxes

A state administrative law judge ruled Monday that Atlanta lawyer Clarence R. Johnson Jr. is disqualified to run for a Fulton County judgeship because of unpaid taxes.

Johnson had signed up to challenge Superior Court Judge Todd Markle, and the non-partisan race was to be decided July 31.

In a six-page order, Administrative Law Judge Michael Malihi upheld a challenge to Johnson's candidacy and ordered his name removed from the ballot.

Neither Johnson nor his lawyer, Mawuli Mel Davis, could be reached for immediate comment. Markle declined to comment, saying he had not read Malihi's decision.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he was carefully reviewing the decision.

Johnson's candidacy was challenged by Matt Metcalf of Roswell, who filed a complaint with the Georgia Secretary of State's Office saying Johnson owed more than $15,000 in state and federal taxes.

According to the Georgia Department of Revenue, Johnson owes $3,638 in taxes. The IRS says he owes $11,447 in taxes.

Johnson admitted that he defaulted on both his state and federal taxes, but said he has entered into a payment plan with the IRS and an installment plan with the state to remedy his liabilities, Malihi said in his order.

The problem, however, is that Johnson failed to take care of the problems before he formally filed his notice of candidacy with the state, Malihi said.

"Accordingly, he did not meet the qualification for office at the time he swore that he was eligible to hold office," Malihi wrote. "... Therefore, he does not meet the constitutional qualifications and is ineligible to be a candidate for Superior Court judge."

Staff writer Chris Joyner contributed to this article.