By Associated Press - Monday, February 1, 2021

ATLANTA (AP) - A plan to split a Georgia judicial circuit to give a suburban county its own court system and district attorney is advancing in the General Assembly.

The state Senate voted 51-0 Monday to approve Senate Bill 9, which now moves to the House for more debate. The measure would let Columbia County leave what has been the three-county Augusta circuit, which also includes Richmond and Burke counties.

Columbia County says the move would save money, but some have objected to a making the split after voters elected the circuit’s first-ever Black district attorney.



Both Republican Sen. Lee Anderson of Grovetown and Democratic Rep. Harold Jones II of Augusta spoke in favor of the bill.

Anderson said it would be an “ideal situation for Columbia County to go on its own” because only three judges currently live there.

The new circuit would have three judges. The remaining Augusta circuit would keep five superior court judicial posts, including one now vacant.

Augusta commissioners, resigned that the Republican-dominated General Assembly would create a new circuit, voted to support the move, under the condition that the remaining Augusta circuit would keep five judges.

Burke County could also seek to join another circuit.

Some judges have voiced discontent with the split.

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