Georgia judge rejects legal attempt to disqualify Burt Jones

A Butts County Superior Court judge ruled against four plaintiffs who tried to disqualify Lt. Gov. Burt Jones from serving in office because of his role in then-President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. (Natrice Miller/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A Butts County Superior Court judge ruled against four plaintiffs who tried to disqualify Lt. Gov. Burt Jones from serving in office because of his role in then-President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. (Natrice Miller/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

A Georgia judge rejected a long-shot bid Friday to disqualify Republican Lt. Gov. Burt Jones from serving in office because of his role in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat.

Butts County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson’s four-page ruling found the four left-leaning plaintiffs “are not entitled to relief” under state law and “cannot introduce evidence” to prove their claims.

It’s one of a wave of court actions targeting Trump and his allies that gained more attention after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled last month that the former president can’t hold office again. The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it would decide whether Trump can be kept off the ballots.

Wilson telegraphed his ruling at a December hearing, when he described the challenge as “far-fetched.” Wayne Kendall, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said the decision “doesn’t surprise me at all” and that he planned to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Jones accused Democrats of “trying to use the legal system to overrule the will of the voters,” and he tied the challenge to the Colorado case and a recent decision by Maine’s Democratic secretary of state declaring Trump ineligible to appear on the ballot.

“I’m glad to see the court throw out this ridiculous political attack,” said Jones, who won election in 2022 with Trump’s backing. “I’ll continue to fight for commonsense conservative policies and will never back down in the face of attacks from the radical left.”

The 47-page challenge against Jones was filed last month by four plaintiffs who said the lieutenant governor has “forfeited his right to hold public office and to discharge the duties” and claims he is an “oath-breaking person.”

It’s part of a coordinated legal effort to disqualify Trump and key allies by invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone who swore an oath to “support” the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from seeking office.

The suit invoked Jones’ participation as a pro-Trump elector after state officials certified Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, his help in organizing legislative hearings that promoted conspiracy theories about the vote and his call for a special legislative session to hear allegations of voting fraud.

Jones also sided with Texas in a lawsuit that sought to invalidate Georgia’s presidential election results and signed a letter urging then-Vice President Mike Pence to postpone certification of election results. Jones planned to deliver the letter to Pence during a Jan. 5, 2021, dinner but later told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he changed his mind.

The judge kept his analysis of the case brief. In rejecting the challenge, Wilson repeatedly cited case law that found the legal claim “is not a proper remedy for misconduct committed in office.”

Jones could yet face other legal action. A special grand jury recommended that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis seek charges against Jones involving his role in the 2020 election.

A Fulton judge, however, disqualified Willis from investigating Jones, saying the DA had a political conflict of interest. The Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia is weighing whether to appoint a special counsel to determine whether Jones should face charges. Jones has said he did nothing wrong and is ready to “tell his side of the story.

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