Nathan Deal and Roy Barnes are both lawyers, one just has been in Congress for the past few decades. Although I am not surprised by the Georgia GOP’s new line of attack – Roy Barnes’ law firm has made appearances 37 times before Judges he appointed and in some cases obtained favorable verdicts for Barnes’ clients.
The Augusta Chronicle has the full story, but here are the pertinent facts and quotes. The Barnes Firm appeared before some Judges that the former Governor appointed, some of those Judges had donated money to Roy. One particular case yielded a 459 million dollar verdict.
“Roy Barnes made millions suing businesses and destroying jobs, and he used his handpicked judges to do it,” McLagan said.
“It’s like Bonnie getting Clyde a job as a bank teller prior to the inevitable robbery – and Georgians paid the price.”
Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said Barnes used campaign staffers such as Carpenter and Runge to lie about his role in the cases.
“Roy Barnes is the Mark McGwire of Georgia’s legal system. He rigged the system and then lied about it,” Robinson said. “McGwire wanted to get in the Hall of Fame. Barnes wants to get in the governor’s mansion.”
But Lester Tate, president of the State Bar of Georgia, said Barnes’ clients didn’t benefit from having cases heard before his appointees.
“The idea that it gives you any marked advantage I think is just preposterous,” he said. “I am sick and tired of politicians trashing lawyers for political gain.
“If you as a lawyer believed a judge had some bias against your client,” he said, “it would be your duty to move to recuse them.”
Moreover, he said, judges for most cases are picked at random.
“You don’t get to pick a judge of your liking,” he said. “You have no idea of what judge you’re going to get.”
If those Judges did anything in favor of Barnes’ clients, then the adverse party’s attorney should have appealed. No Judge wants his ruling to be overturned by the Court of Appeals, nor face the Qualifications Commission. I’m not buying the Georgia GOP’s theory that the outcome of these cases were influenced by some bias. We’ve got some problematic Judges in Georgia, particularly a certain Federal Judge in Atlanta, but this just seems to be the Georgia GOP grasping at straws.
But this tactic does not surprise me. People hate lawyers. Which makes this a tricky tactic, as Deal and Barnes are both lawyers. I don’t like Barnes. I don’t hate him as much as this guy. I just don’t like him. But I think this is the wrong route to take in this campaign.
If I were Barnes, however, I would quote that well spoken lawyer in Ghostbusters II – “Give me a break, we’re both lawyers.”