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Clayton County Probate Judge Ordered to Pay Attorney Fees

A probate judge learned an expensive lesson recently on refusing to issue a Georgia Weapons Carry License. This week, a superior court judge ordered the probate judge of Clayton County to pay attorneys fees in a dispute over issuance of a firearms license. The dispute centered on the denial of a license to an applicant with a moonshining tax revenue conviction (a felony) from four decades ago. The applicant had received a restoration of rights from both the state and federal government, but the probate judge refused to issue the Georgia Weapons Carry License, arguing that the applicant had not been pardoned.

Attorney John Monroe sued on the man's behalf and won an order requiring issuance of the license, prompting the probate judge to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. After the applicant won the appeal before the Georgia Supreme Court, the probate judge objected to the request for attorney fees, noting that the fees to handle the appeal were almost twice the fees to handle the matter in the superior court.

Judge Fletcher Sams, who presided over the case after all of the Clayton County judges recused themselves, was unmoved by the defendant's argument, noting that it is unfair to drag an applicant to the Georgia Supreme Court if the fee award is going to cover only one third of the cost. The end result of such a ruling would be that the license would end up costing the applicant very dearly, a situation the General Assembly could not have intended when it passed language entitling an eligible applicant to his attorney fees when he fails to receive a license.

For a prior article on attorney John Monroe, see Local Attorney Is Making Probate Judges Pay.

This week's order is in The Superior Court of Clayton County, Civil Action Number 11-CV-1196

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