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Lawsuit dropped against Warren County officials

A lawsuit filed against Warren County Elections Superintendent Janice Thigpen, Warren County School Superintendent Carole Jean Carey and members of the Warren County Board of Education has been dropped, according to officials on both sides of the case.

"I felt from the beginning that we went by the law," Mrs. Thigpen said. "Hopefully, the county can go on now and try to work together."

Working together is what Atlanta attorney Brian Watkins said his clients were aiming for when they filed the complaint.

The lawsuit alleging voting rights violations was filed Feb. 8 by Mr. Watkins for Warren County residents Emily Massey and Willie Foster Moss.

Mr. Watkins said no special election was held to fill Board of Education seats that were vacated last year when then-Gov. Sonny Perdue removed three board members from office.

Two of the removed members -- Charles Culver and Cecil Brown -- held terms that did not expire until 2012.

Current members Carolyn Martin and Patricia Hambsch were appointed to fill those seats.

Mr. Watkins said his clients were concerned because even though Warren County is such a small community, there was no communication about who would represent them.

"They feel isolated," Mr. Watkins said. "There was no solicitation from the community for filling those seats."

Mr. Watkins said the lawsuit was dropped last week when he "had a very good, long conversation with attorneys Scott Kelly and Mike Dishman," who represented the defendants.

Although no special election will be held, Mr. Watkins said that he believes the underlying issue -- communication -- has been addressed, and he will continue to monitor its progress.

"They are all adults, and people disagree," he said.

"The issue is, my clients want to be heard and consulted. I appreciate the efforts of Kelly and Dishman to work things out."

Web posted on Thursday, March 03, 2011

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