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Coroner wants Newton County to pay legal fees
Asks county to fund defense against its own effort to remove Dorothea Bailey-Butts from office
Dorothea Bailey-Butts
Dorothea Bailey-Butts

COVINGTON, Ga. — Coroner Dorothea Bailey-Butts says the county government needs to defend her against the county’s own effort to remove her from office.

Chairman Marcello Banes confirmed that Bailey-Butts recently asked the county to pay for “an attorney of my choice” to defend her against “these baseless claims” of misconduct during her first 29 days in office as coroner.

County Manager Lloyd Kerr asked in a Jan. 29 petition to the Georgia Coroners Training Council that Bailey-Butts be removed from office because of an alleged series of incidents that showed she was incapable of performing the job's duties.

County coroner is an elected position responsible for investigating suspicious deaths countywide and signing death certificates, among other tasks.

Bailey-Butts won the office Nov. 3 after defeating three-term incumbent Tommy Davis.

Banes confirmed the coroner said in a letter Feb. 10 that she wanted the county to cover her legal expenses and an answer in two days. 

After not hearing from the county, she said in a Feb. 12 letter that she planned to hire an attorney and expected the county to cover the cost. 

Banes then emailed her on Feb. 17 and said he had forwarded the letter to the county attorney.

Kerr’s petition to the Coroners Training Council sought an emergency injunction to prevent Bailey-Butts from continuing in the elected position "effective immediately."

The allegations against her included refusing to transport a body from a fatal wreck on Georgia Hwy. 212 last month despite its requirement in state law.

She also possibly destroyed evidence and mishandled the body of a suicide victim; and left a deceased hotel patron in plain view of other guests and employees, according to the petition.

Kerr’s petition also includes other allegations against Bailey-Butts for actions she took between taking office Jan. 1 and Jan. 29 that he said show that “she is wholly unable to competently serve as the county's coroner."

The additional allegations range from possibly being mentally unstable; to telling county commissioners she had damaging information to coerce them to approve more money for her office.

Bailey-Butts recently told an Atlanta TV station she denied many of the allegations in the petition and defended other actions by saying she was not properly trained.