McGinley Sworn In

Randy McGinley, left, was sworn as the interim district attorney for the Alcovy Circuit on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Monroe, Ga. Chief Judge John M. Ott, right, administered the oath. McGinley served as chief assistant district attorney from 2017-20.

MONROE, Ga. — The loss of a judge and spread of COVID-19 have caused a local judicial emergency.

Chief Judge John M. Ott issued the declaration Wednesday morning, a day after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 himself.

Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. died earlier Wednesday. Ott’s order noted “the loss of a true public servant resulting in a need to further assess judicial resources.”

Ott said he was declaring the judicial emergency due to having “several judges and staff” in the Newton and Walton courthouses diagnosed with COVID-19.

Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown said his deputies were called to Johnson’s home due to a cardiac arrest.

The order closes the courthouses of Newton and Walton counties from Wednesday through July 14. Unless the order is extended, normal courthouse operations would resume at 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 15.

Courts will remain “minimally open to address essential functions.” Ott said Tuesday he was equipped to conduct hearings via video conference from his home during a two-week quarantine period.

The Georgia National Guard was expected in both the Newton and Walton courthouses over the next couple of days to clean after the presence of people who have since been diagnosed with COVID-19, multiple officials said.

The order to close the courthouse wouldn’t necessarily apply to the entire Walton County Government Building. Court offices don’t take up all of the space. Board of Commissioners Chairman Kevin Little said he and emergency manager Carl Morrow were considering their options early Wednesday afternoon.

Newton County has its Judicial Center separate from the Government Building, where citizens conduct day-to-day operations like buying car tags and paying property taxes.

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(1) comment

Samuel Hay

(It was a Judicial Emergency way before all this happened. Chief Judge John Ott being a co conspirator with Tommy Craig to validate$22 million dollars worth of bonds for a defunct Bear Creek Reservoir project and to eliminate any record of the legally necessary hearing so Samuel Hay could not appeal to a higher court. The court records from the initial hearing have to be transferred to the higher court for review. Judge John illegally made that impossible. Hay has frequently appealed and won so the co conspirators knew that would happen it they allowed the record to exist. Judge John Ott is as guilty as his co conspirator in allowing Newton County taxpayers to be liable for repaying the $22 million dollars with no revenue stream making it a debt the taxpayers are responsible for paying. SAMUEL HAY)

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