South Fulton’s former internet-famous judge appeals firing

Former Judge Tiffany Sellers speaks with the press after being fired during a South Fulton City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Sellers is an internet-famous chief municipal judge who is accused of mistreating staff. EMILY HANEY / emily.haney@ajc.com

South Fulton’s recently fired municipal court judge filed a petition in court Wednesday appealing her termination.

Tiffany Sellers was fired by the City Council on March 19 after workers complained that she had been "bullying" court employees and approved the filming of a reality television show in her courtroom without the city's knowledge.


Sellers, who denies the misconduct claims, filed the petition in Fulton County Superior Court. The basis of her defense is that City Council violated open meetings laws when firing her and the law used to fire municipal judges is unconstitutional. The latter law became official in 2016 and Sellers’ defense team said it has not yet been challenged in court.

“It is clear that the city has gone to extreme measures to cover up the fact that the vote did not occur in public, as required by statute,” the petition reads. South Fulton’s city attorney has denied any such wrongdoing.


BackgroundFiring of South Fulton's internet-famous judge to continue


This photo went viral showing the eight African-American women who are leading the City of South Fulton’s law enforcement and municipal court system. They are, front row, left to right: City Solicitor LaDawn Jones, Court Administrator Lakesiya Cofield, Public Defender Viveca R. Famber Powell, Interim Police Chief Sheila Rogers. Back row, left to right: Clerk Kerry Stephens, Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers, Clerk of Court Ramona Howard, Clerk Tiffany Kinslow. (Photo by Reginald Duncan, Cranium Creation)

The reason a TV production company was interested in the suburban city was its unique criminal justice system run entirely by black women. A photo published by the Atlanta Voice in June of Sellers and the seven others went viral online as another example of "black girl magic" — an international hashtag that became a rallying cry for black women.

Now, only half the women remain, with two citing Sellers as their reason for leaving the court, which handles traffic violations and low-level offenses.


BackgroundSouth Fulton wants to fire internet-famous judge, claims misconduct


Even though six of the seven council members voted to fire her, Sellers wants to be fully reinstated to her $135,000-a-year position.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to hire two judges, according to the meeting’s minutes, to fill in while the situation with Sellers gets worked out.


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