Two Fulton County Superior Court judges have recused themselves from the lawsuit filed by Gov. Brian Kemp against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council over COVID-19 restrictions.
Kemp announced last week that he had instructed the state attorney general to file the suit after Bottoms mandated masks and rolled back the city’s reopening plan, which recommended residents shelter in place, restaurants close dining rooms, and prohibited public gatherings.
Two hours before a first hearing on the case this morning, Judge Kelly Ellerbe recused herself after a request by Deputy Georgia Attorney General Julie Jacobs. In a statement from the Attorney General’s office, Ellerbe said she had spoken  with an Appellate Judge about a prior opinion that she felt may have some bearing on the issues in this case. “Judge Ellerbe became concerned about having had this discussion, and she immediately notified the parties. Our office appreciates Judge Ellerbe’s transparency and professionalism,” the statement said.
The case was then assigned to Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua, who also recused herself due to her work as an inspector general for Kemp when he served as Secretary of State. LaGrua said she remained under consideration for “gubernatorial appointments” by Kemp, according to a report in the AJC.
The Georgia Municipal Association also filed a brief with the court, siding with Mayor Bottoms and the City Council in the case. The GMA said Kemp has “attempted to usurp local control and Home Rule authority by using emergency powers which do not exist in the Georgia Constitution or in statutory law.”