(Ellijay, Ga) Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge, Mary Elizabeth Priest, announced her recent qualification for and intent to run for the Superior Court bench in the May 2018 nonpartisan General Election. Ellijay has been her home for thirty years.
The Superior Courts handle civil matters, including family and domestic litigation, criminal cases ranging from traffic violations to felonies, as well as transfers and appeals from Magistrate Court and Probate Court. In our Appalachian Circuit, Superior Court Judges are responsible for dockets and jury trials in Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens Counties.
Mary Beth is a graduate of Gilmer High School and North Georgia College and State University. Before
attending law school, she served as a case manager and investigator for the Pickens County Department
of Family and Children Services. She later received her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Georgia State
University. She began her legal career as an associate attorney at Downey & Cleveland, in Marietta, in
2006. In 2010, she joined the law firm Clark & Clark, in Ellijay, where she practiced complex civil litigation.
Priest said, “It has been a great honor to serve on the bench for the past two years. One of my goals has
been to build a bridge between our community and our court system. I am proud of the progress we have
made in that regard. Being a judge is an enormous responsibility that I take very seriously. I ask the
people of the Appalachian Circuit to trust me with their vote. If they do, I will continue to work hard for
our community with the same commitment to efficiency, impartiality, fairness, and responsibility that I
have had since my first day on the bench.”
Judge Priest was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal in 2016 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Roger Bradley. In addition to being involved with and frequently speaking at local civil- organizations, she initiated and helped coach the Gilmer High School Mock Trial Team’s inaugural season this year. As an adopted child born into foster care, she has also done outreach for adoption agencies as a strong advocate for foster and adopted children.
Her husband, Jeremy, owns and operates a scrap metal recycling company as well as a plumbing company, and they live in Ellijay with their two children. Her father, Mike Williams, and mother, Lorie Stanley Williams originally of Stanley Creek in Fannin County, also live in Ellijay.
“No evidence has been presented to show any violation of code of Judicial Ethics by Judge Weaver. Instead, the evidence appears to show a personal dislike of the Judge.”
Last week the Georgia Judicial Qualification Commission dismissed the complaint against Appalachian Judicial District Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver.
“The complaint of Thomason, Stookey, Doss and the GCSPJ are without any basis in law or fact. The complaints are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to enlist the JQC in their fixation upon harming Judge Weaver. The JQC will have no further part in it. All complaints are hereby dismissed.”
The complaint was submitted to the JQC by Mark Thomason, former publisher of the Fannin Focus, his attorney Russell Stookey and Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss.
In the JQC conclusions they addressed the Georgia Chapters Society of Professionals Journalist complaint that Weaver mounted an attack on freedom of the press.
“Calling oneself a “journalist” and “reporter” should not be a cover for pursuing personal vendettas.”
Stookey and Thomason with the assistance of Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss raised a complaint to the FBI to initiate an investigation.
JQC, “The FBI investigated the allegations raised by Stookey and Thomason but found no wrongdoing.”
On June 15th Atlanta Attorney Gerry Weber, representing Russell Stookey and Mark Thomason, sent a demand letter and Ante Litem Notice to Judge Brenda Weaver, District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee and Pickens County Board of Commissioners.
Part of Weber’s summary of claim, “This case has already garnered national attention. It involves breathtaking abuse of power by a Judge, prosecutor, and law enforcement who manipulated the criminal justice system to wage a personal vendetta against a local newspaper publisher and his attorney.”
Weber’s claim for damages conclusion, “Further accounting for damages stemming from the emotional distress in false arrest and malicious prosecution and for the punitive damages due to egregiousness of the actions leading to the arrests, Stookey’s and Thomason’s damages exceed 1,000,000.”
How far will this case go considering the FBI and JQC have closed their investigation both dismissing the possible charge of wrongdoing.
A celebration was held January 26th 2016 in honor of Superior Court Judge Roger Bradley’s retirement. A large crowd of colleagues, friends, and family attended the gathering to honor Judge Bradley and wish him well on the next chapter of his life. Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver spoke of Judge Bradley’s career and presented him with a plaque. Attorney George Weaver spoke at the gathering and reflected on the memories with the crowd.
Judge Bradley has shared with us about his plans to spend time with his family and do some traveling. FYN would like to wish him well.
Superior Court Judge Honorable Roger Bradley has announced his retirement effective January 31st 2016. Judge Bradley spoke with FYN earlier and expressed how much he will miss all the wonderful people he has had the opportunity to work with over the years. However he is looking forward to visiting with family and has made some exciting travel plans. Judge Bradley has released the following statement:
Judge Roger Bradley Announces Retirement
Let me take this opportunity to thank all of the voting constituents of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit for the confidence and trust in me to serve as your Superior Court Judge for the last fifteen years.
It has truly been a privilege to be a public servant to this circuit and to those litigants that have come in to court.
There is however a “season” for all things and now is the appropriate opportunity for me to take leave and to enjoy places and things that I have wanted to enjoy throughout my service as a Superior Court Judge. Effective January 31, 2016 I will be retiring as a Superior Court Judge, however, it is not without regrets because of the friends I will miss, however, as best said by my bailiff who also recently retired because of family health issues, he stated “I don’t like long good byes”.
That fits very well here but I do want to thank again all of the voting constituents for their confidence and trust throughout this past fifteen years of service.
There will be a retirement celebration for Judge Bradley on Tuesday, January 26th 2016 in the Jury Assembly Room in the Gilmer County Courthouse between 4 and 6 pm.
The retirement announcement from Judge Bradley coupled with the recent appointment of Superior Court Judge Amanda Mercier to the Georgia Court of Appeals will leave two vacancies on the Appalachian Judicial Circuit. Governor Nathan Deal will make appointments to fill the vacancies on the bench. This may make for a very interesting election season. Always go to FetchYourNews.com for the most recent election coverage. Click on Election 2016 for up to date information.