County Loses the Callaway-Ingram Lawsuit Before the Georgia Supreme Court
By Editor Becky Watts
ZEBULON - In a unanimous decision by the Georgia Supreme Court issued this week, the Pike County Board of Commissioners lost their appeal against the mandamus that had been decided for Pike County Magistrate Marcia Callaway-Ingram by Superior Court in September of 2012. In the September lawsuit, a judge ruled that the Pike County Commission had interfered with the operations of Magistrate Court and illegally lowered the salary of the Chief Magistrate Judge during a term of office. When commissioners lost their case in Superior Court, they appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.
In the final opinion, the Georgia Supreme Court found that Judge Callaway-Ingram had been performing the the duties of Chief Magistrate between the time that Judge Priscilla Killingsworth left office in the middle of her term of office and prior to the county reducing her salary as incoming appointed judge. The court found that she is entitled to back pay for this two years of office served.
The court also found evidence that the county interfered with operations of that office when a couple of applications for a position in Magistrate Court were held at the Commission office. These applications were ultimately turned over after one of the applicants called Magistrate and calls were made between the two offices--see prior articles with links below for more information. The court also ruled that the county failed to budget adequate funds for Magistrate Court during the budget crisis in Pike County that was handled by the County Commission under the direction of then County Manager Bill Sawyer by saying that the budget crisis affected Magistrate Court more than other county departments. The Court ruled that the county not be allowed to continue with salary and postion reductions included in this lawsuit and that the Pike County Commission should not interfere with Judge Callaway-Ingram's ability to hire personnel for her office.
To read the ruling of the Georgia Supreme Court in its entirety, click here.