Political Notes — And so the lawyers are paid, and paid again

[private]Shakespeare got it all wrong in “Henry VI, Part II” when he wrote, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

In the administration of Gov. Nathan Deal, the first thing they do is pay all the lawyers — particularly lawyers who keep running up fees in the water wars lawsuit with Florida.

Georgia has paid roughly $50 million to its lawyers over the past few years for their legal services in representing the state, whether in the water allocation lawsuit filed by the state of Florida or in other related matters involving the water wars.

It’s hard to put an exact number on it because the money paid out to lawyers is never included as a line item in the state budget. Instead, Deal signs an executive order and doles out money from his “emergency fund” from time to time — the latest such occasion was on Jan. 11 when the governor shifted another $3,562,041 out of the fund “to cover costs associated with water litigation.”

The water lawsuit filed by Florida against Georgia is at an especially important legal point.

Special master Ralph Lancaster finished a month-long trial in Portland, Me. on Dec. 1 after hearing lawyers for both states argue the merits of the case. Lancaster urged the two states, “Please settle this blasted thing. I can guarantee you that at least one of you is going to be unhappy with my recommendation — and perhaps both of you.”

No settlement has been forthcoming and whichever way Lancaster rules on the lawsuit, one or both of the states are expected to appeal it to the Supreme Court — which, of course, will require the time, expertise, and hourly fees of more lawyers.

Deal is evidently anticipating that some pricey legal invoices are headed his way. In the amended state budget for the current fiscal year, he’s asking the Legislature to add another $10 million to his emergency fund.

Wright gets a judgeship

Gov. Deal has appointed District Attorney Ashley Wright as a Superior Court Judge in the Augusta Judicial Circuit, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of J. David Roper.

Wright has a bachelor’s degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Va., and a law degree from Mercer University.

Personnel notes

Andy Freeman is joining the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network as the government relations director for Georgia. He was formerly vice president of governmental affairs for the Georgia Pharmacy Association and is embarking on his 25th legislative session.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Ashley Wright , legal fees , Nathan Deal , water wars litigation