Paulding County Superior Court Judge James Osbourne is facing criticism after he and his daughter both entered the race for his seat on the bench.
PAULDING COUNTY -- A Paulding County judge's daughter says she will not run for election after claims of nepotism.
Incumbent Paulding County Superior Court County Judge James Osbourne submitted his name for re-election on the first day of the five day qualification period. Then on the last day of the period his daughter Elizabeth Osbourne Williams put her name in the ring for her dad's seat. One day after that, her father withdrew from his re-election.
William Perry of Common Cause Georgia says that was unethical because he deliberately made it too late for any other candidate to compete.
"She and her father colluded to deny the the voters of Paulding County a choice in this election," said Perry.
Elizabeth Williams issued a statement Monday saying:
I qualified as a candidate for Paulding Superior Court Judge in good faith and complied with every law in that regard. I qualified because I come from a family of lawyers who has long been committed to public service and I share their deep love for Paulding County. Any lawyer with the required experience was free to qualify. I did not intend to bring criticism on me, my father, the judicial process, or anyone, but I am aware that some people have expressed criticism and concern. Although I am now the only candidate on the ballot, in an effort to keep the confidence of the public in the judicial process, I intend to withdraw and ask the Secretary of State to reopen the period to qualify for the position of Judge of Superior Court for the Paulding Judicial Circuit so that I or anyone will have additional time to qualify. It is my hope and prayer that the best person for the job will be elected by the people of Paulding County. --Elizabeth Osborne Williams
Perry points out that while in his opinion this process was completely unethical, nothing about the last minute switch was illegal. However, some Georgia state lawmakers, like Senator Josh McKoon say it should be.
"I am very distressed by the integrity or lack there of shown by this whole episode," said McKoon.
11Alive News went to Paulding County to try and speak with Judge Osbourne but we were told he'd have no comment. McKoon claims he'll have plenty more to say about it.
"It should not be allowed to occur and I'm looking forward to working with my colleagues to make sure this never happens again," he said.