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Newton County Besieged Coroner Asks County to Pay Legal Fees |  News

COVINGTON – Controversial Newton County Coroner has informed Commission Chairman Marcello Banes that she expects the county to pay for her legal defense against the county’s efforts to remove her from office.

County Director Lloyd Kerr filed a petition Jan. 29 with the state Coroner’s Training Board to remove Coroner Dorothea Bailey-Butts from her post, alleging several incidents of misconduct.

Bailey-Butts was elected in November and took office on January 1.

In a February 10 letter to President Banes, obtained by the Citizen as part of an Open Records Act request, Bailey-Butts asks the county to provide “payment for an attorney of my choice as a legal counsel to defend the coroner’s office against these baseless allegations… “

Bailey-Butts requested a response by Friday, February 12. In a subsequent letter to Banes, Bailey-Butts said that since she had not heard from the county, and due to the “urgent need to retain the services of a lawyer, please note that I will hire a lawyer. to defend myself against official misconduct allegations. “

Bailey-Butts added that since the allegations appear to be made by the county and not by Kerr individually, “I would expect Newton County to cover my legal costs.”

In a brief February 17 email, Banes replied that he forwarded Bailey-Butts’ letter to the county prosecutor.

In his petition to the Georgia Coroner’s Training Council, Kerr alleges that Bailey-Butts mismanaged several cases in January, including an automobile death, the death of a guest at the Hampton Inn in Covington and the suicide of a 13-year-old boy. years. . According to Kerr’s petition, Bailey-Butts, who calls herself Ms. Coroner, “has demonstrated that she is totally incapable of competently serving as the County Coroner.

Under a law passed in 2019, the Coroners Training Council has the power to review complaints about coroners and make recommendations regarding their continuation, suspension or dismissal and to withdraw or suspend certification of coroners. ‘a coroner.

In addition to the misconduct allegations, Bailey-Butts refused to transport bodies, which is a fundamental obligation of the coroner’s office, and allegedly mismanaged the functioning of his office by employing three assistant coroners who did not follow the county hiring process. .

If the county’s petition to impeach Bailey-Butts is successful, Kerr said he believed the county would be able to hold a special election to fill the coroner’s position.

Bailey-Butts, a Democrat, defeated longtime coroner Tommy Davis, a Republican, in the November general election.

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