After three attempts, EPD director still hasn’t been served legal papers about ongoing pollution of the Ogeechee River

December 7, 2012 9:50 am

by Bill Dawers · 4 comments

Click here if you need a little background on the legal battles over pollution in the Ogeechee River.

From today’s Savannah Morning News, EPD director hard to serve in Ogeechee case:

Georgia’s top environmental regulator, Judson Turner, is proving a tough man on whom to serve legal papers.

More than three weeks after Ogeechee Riverkeeper attorneys filed a legal petition to force the director of the Environmental Protection Division to shut down unpermitted discharges from textile processor King America Finishing, he still has not been served the summons and complaint.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office tried to serve the papers on 11/21, 11/26, and 11/29. Now there’s a request for “special agent” to carry out the task.

Again from the SMN:

“At each attempt, the Sheriff’s Deputy attempting service was informed that Defendant was not present and that none of his agents or representatives would accept service on his behalf.”

EPD spokesman Kevin Chambers said there’s nothing unusual in the situation.

This lawsuit is a serious thing. It’s absurd that so much time of government employees should be wasted simply trying to serve papers to a state official who knows that a summons and complaint are on the way.

Maybe Turner should just go pick the papers up and save everyone this unnecessary time and expense. And then we can get back to the serious substance of the issue.

Katherine Helms Cummings December 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm

The EPD has been absent on oversight and enforcement regarding the Ogeechee River and King America for years. Trouble serving Turner with papers which will require his agency to account for its actions (or lack of action) shouldn’t be a surprise.

An Open Records Act request might shed some light on whose business Turner was attending to on those three days.

Daddy Got A Gun December 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm

This is more an issue with the Fulton Sheriff’s Office, than the EPD. They do the bare minimum when serving papers and will do everything possible not to serve public officials.

Hire a professional service company. Its well worth the added cost.

DavidTC December 8, 2012 at 1:16 am

What the hell is the state Attorney General yammering about? Why exactly _can’t_ they can’t accept a summons for their own client?

The state has a _lawyer_, called the ‘Attorney General’, and that lawyer can damn well accept summons filed against state employees in their official capacity! It doesn’t matter what ‘EPD policy’ is.

Hell, why is anyone having to deliver summons to _Turner_ in the first place? You file suit against a state employee in their official capacity, you should just _automatically_ file it with the state Attorney General. THAT IS WHAT THEY EXIST FOR.

No one is actually suing Turner per se, they are suing the State of Georgia for not actually enforcing state law. Turner’s just the guy who’s _supposed_ to enforce it so gets named in the suit, but the suit ‘really’ is against the State of Georgia, and will be argued against in court (Assuming the state fights it.) by, tada, the Attorney General. Turner is not actually needed or part of this process at all, except if the state loses the judge will direct him to do something in his official capacity.

This provides some really surreal logic when you think about it. Apparently, all lawsuits against the state government can just be stopped because the guy _symbolically_ named in the suit has vanished. And, apparently, neither the _next_ guy nor the state attorney in line does not have to accept it.

I think at this point Ogeechee Riverkeeper should just file papers suing the executive branch for their apparent failure to _have_ a Director of the EPD, which is surely in violation of some law or another. They should, instead of spending any more time trying to track down Turner, haul Deal into court and demand he produce evidence that Turner _actually exists_.

Oh, that would waste the governor’s time? Yeah, that’s kinda the point.

Dave Bearse December 8, 2012 at 3:24 am

It would appear an opens record request for Turner’s calendar/schedule/itinerary, and any documentation of Turner at meetings is in order. The results may not reflect well on those that informed the server that Turner was not present.

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