- Associated Press - Saturday, September 12, 2020

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - Leaders in a Georgia city are asking the state Court of Appeals to back its refusal of a judge’s order to renovate a former jail and school for court space.

Lawyers for the Augusta Commission are fighting a July order by Superior Court Judge Carl Brown, who says courts need more room for socially distant proceedings because of COVID-19, and that the city has ignored his three-year push for space for juvenile court.

The city-county government reacted to Brown’s order by voting to tear down the former jail and law enforcement complex, saying Brown had overreached his authority.

New court filings ask the Court of Appeals to block Brown’s order for a status conference on his renovation order next week, The Augusta Chronicle reports.

Brown wants all the elected members of the Augusta Commission to appear, along with a committee he named to oversee renovations.

City attorneys also want the Court of Appeals to disregard Brown’s claims that he’s been working on the juvenile court for years, saying Brown included no documentation of that in his original order, and didn’t hold a hearing to produce legal evidence that would have backed his order and allowed the city to present a defense.

More than two dozen local attorneys signed a “friend of the court” brief in the case, which seeks in part a ruling that the city’s appropriate response to Brown’s order should have been the filing of a writ of mandamus. Such a writ asks for a court ruling that finds a government was legally obligated to take action and failed to do so. That should have been Brown’s legal course of action, city attorneys contend.

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