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  • Jefferson Weaver

State Board Dismisses Norton Complaint Against Greene

One of the two complaints against Sheriff Elect Jody Greene has been dismissed.

Calvin Norton and Herman Lewis filed appeals against last week’s decision by the Columbus Board of Elections. Norton’s protest stated that Greene was disqualified from office, since the petition against Greene in October was dismissed. Both complaints were voted down, 2-1, by the Columbus BOE. Two members of the local board abstained from voting. “The protest contends that the preliminary court order suspending Mr. Greene from office has the effect of an order disqualifying him from holding office,’ SBOE Attorney Paul Cox wrote in the denial of the appeal. “The District Attorney (Jon David) filed a voluntary dismissal after the resignation.” That dismissal is the only court action taken against Greene, Cox notes.

“…the protest further alleges that Mr. Greene’s resignation was an improper and invalid attempt to evade a court order removing him from office. In addition, the protest raises issues with Mr. Greene’s residency that were the subject of a protest filed and resolved in 2018.

“The protest requests relief in the disqualification of Mr. Greene, cancellation of his notice of candidacy, removal of votes for Mr. Greene in the election, and declaration of Mr. Greene’s opponent (Jason Soles) as the winner.”

The response notes that Greene would be disqualified if he had been found guilty of the charges in the removal petition that was dismissed.

“Mr. Greene, however, has not been adjudged guilty of corruption or malpractice in office, nor has (he) been removed by impeachment from the office as Sheriff of Columbus County…

“Therefore, Mr. Greene is not disqualified as a candidate for office in the 2022 election for the reason proffered by Dr. Norton.”

The response explained that Greene resigned and the charges were dismissed.

“Here, Mr. Greene resigned from office prior to the occurrence of the full evidentiary hearing before a superior court judge that is a prerequisite to entering a final decision on the petition. Moreover, the preliminary suspension of Mr. Greene is at most a temporary suspension based on a forecast of evidence included in the petition. A temporary suspension simply cannot serve as a de facto

final determination of removal—no statute or judicial process provides a mechanism for doing so. This is even more so the case when, as here, there was no full hearing on the matter….

“Accordingly, Mr. Greene has not been disqualified from office for one of the constitutional reasons relevant to this protest, and a board of elections—both county and State—has no authority to disqualify a candidate for office in the manner proposed by Dr. Norton.”

One more complaint – that of Herman Lewis of the Columbus County NAACP – remains to be considered by the SBOE. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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