COVINGTON, Ga. — A Superior Court judge is giving those supporting Covington’s Confederate statue another 30 days to make their case why it should remain in the middle of the city’s downtown area.
Judge John Ott today, July 29, also ordered the county government not to move the 114-year-old statue while the issue is still pending “except by further order of the court.”
In the order, Ott extended his deadline 30 days for those on both sides of the issue to send him their legal arguments concerning the county government's planned removal of the statue from its location in Covington since 1906.
Ott said he was extending the deadline from Aug. 3 to Sept. 2 to allow one of two plaintiffs in the case, Newton County resident Tiffany Humphries, time to hire an attorney to file legal briefs telling why the judge should stop the county from removing the statue.
The judge set his original deadline of Aug. 3 for legal arguments during a July 20 hearing on separate requests from Humphries and the Georgia and Newton County Sons of Confederate Veterans groups for an injunction to halt the county’s plan to remove the statue.
They were seeking the judge’s intervention after the Newton County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 on July 14 for removal.
Ott had told both sides they needed to address such issues as Newton County’s possible sovereign immunity — the concept that governments cannot be sued for operating in their legal capacity — and statue supporters’ legal standing for challenging the county’s plans before he would rule.
He also told them he hoped the losing side would appeal his ruling so that all issues in the case are fully discussed in the courts.
Ott said he confirmed that both sides had agreed to the request.
The statue, meanwhile, needs to remain in its current location, the judge said.
“The court … takes this opportunity to set as an order the oral consent and agreement of the parties to maintain the status quo of the Confederate statue that is the subject of petitioners’ petition for injunctive relief and damages,” Ott wrote.