Before you get your underwear in a twist about Victor Hill and Clayton County, consider that this saga has miles to go before we weep.
First, a quick review of the situation from my AJC colleague Rhonda Cook:
Former Clayton County sheriff Victor Hill has reclaimed the office he lost four years ago despite 37 pending felony charges that accuse him of using his government office and his 2008 campaign to enrich himself.
With only one precinct uncounted, Hill was ahead. But the charges he’s facing make it uncertain whether he will take office in January because the governor could suspend him until he goes to trial.
“Don’t be sorry for me. Be sorry for Clayton County,” Democratic incumbent Kem Kimbrough said. “I’ll be fine but there are a whole lot of people’s lives that will be affected by this and maybe they have to see this for themselves. It’s something I’ve heard a million times; only in Clayton County. It is what it is.”
So what happens next?
There is no Republican candidate, but Hill still needs to go through the formality of a November ballot.
If Gov. Nathan Deal is lucky, the court system of Clayton County will become a rabbit for justice, and quickly bring the Hill case to trial. Before January, when Hill would be sworn in.
If Hill is acquitted, there’s no problem. If even one felony count sticks, then Hill would be barred from service and a new election would be called. If you don’t see Kimbrough’s yard signs disappear right away, this may be why.
But justice rarely moves quickly. Let’s assume that the charges against Hill linger into next year. The moment that Hill takes the oath of office, the governor would be obliged to form an advisory committee to determine whether Hill is qualified to serve.
The three-person committee would be made up of two sheriffs appointed by Deal, and Attorney General Sam Olens.
If the committee accepts Hill’s contention that the grand jury indictments were politically motivated, it can recommend that there be no suspension – advice that the governor is required to follow.
But if the committee determines that there is substance to the indictments, and recommends a suspension, then it becomes the governor’s choice. Deal can accept the committee’s judgment, or not.
If the governor suspends Hill, then the Clayton County probate judge would name a temporary replacement. Might that be Kimbrough? Possibly, but probably not. Wouldn’t look good.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider