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County manager petitions state agency to remove Newton coroner from office
Alleges series of incidents showing Dorothea Bailey-Butts unfit for duties
Bailey-Butts at BOC
Then-Coroner Dorothea Bailey-Butts speaks to the Newton County Board of Commissioners Jan. 19 at the Historic Courthouse. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County government manager is petitioning a state agency to remove Coroner Dorothea Bailey-Butts from office because she has shown "clear incompetence" and "cannot reasonably perform her duties and ensure safety of citizens and others."

Lloyd Kerr has filed a petition with the the Georgia Coroner's Training Council to remove Bailey-Butts from office and for injunctive relief according to state law.

Kerr says in the petition that since taking office Jan. 1, Bailey-Butts has "demonstrated that she is wholly unable to competently serve as the county's coroner."

"She has held office for 29 days and (her) behaviors and lack of professionalism not only reflects negatively on Newton County but for coroners across the State of Georgia."

Kerr is asking the Training Council to remove Bailey-Butts from office. He also is asking the Council to seek an emergency injunction "to prevent Ms. Bailey-Butts" from continuing in her role "effective immediately."

Among the allegations made in the petition:

• After Bailey-Butts went to the home of the mother of the victim of a motor vehicle accident and informed her child had died, the mother collapsed upon hearing the news. Bailey-Butts then attempted to perform CPR on the mother despite her being "very much alive."

• After arriving at the scene of a 13-year-old boy's suicide, Bailey-Butts "began berating the family and first responders for messing up her crime scene." She then "mishandled" the body while the family was still present and potentially destroyed evidence, according to Kerr's complaint.

"She did not ask the family to step outside so she could complete her duties," the complaint states.

"(Bailey-Butts) is directly responsible for these acts and must be made accountable for her misdoing(s)."

• On Jan. 16, Bailey-Butts and her "staff" went to a Covington motel after a guest died in one of the rooms. Bailey-Butts and others assisting her took more than three hours to remove the body because of her "insistence that she would not transport the body."

She also allegedly left the body in a hallway in view of other workers and guests, the complaint alleges.

• On Jan. 22, Bailey-Butts arrived at the scene of a fatal vehicle wreck, argued with a sheriff's deputy about a prior traffic ticket she had received. She then refused to transport a body from the scene in a coroner's transport van but eventually returned to the scene and did so, resulting in the body being left on the side of the road for more than three hours.

Kerr also detailed in the petition about Bailey-Butts showing county commissioners an envelope with contents that she said "would shut Covington down." 

Bailey-Butts has refused an open records request from The Covington News, saying the contents of the envelope were her personal property.

She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.