A motion to issue an arrest warrant for Newton County Chairman Keith Ellis was dismissed by Chief Magistrate Court Judge Henry Baker Tuesday morning.
Billy Durden, a former landscaping contractor for Newton County, filed a motion Monday seeking the arrest warrant on a charge of criminal defamation. The impetus for the motion seeking the warrant came after Durden said he obtained video of a conversation with a commissioner who made statements incriminating Ellis.
However, Baker ruled that the case be dismissed due to criminal defamation statute O.C.G.A 16-11-40 and that the case was unconstitutional. A 1982 case, Williamson v. State and a 1974 case Gooding v. Wilson were the cases of record stated in Judge Baker’s order, obtained by The News.
Durden filed a civil suit in 2013 after he was terminated from his $98,000 landscaping contract. The case was dismissed in Newton County Superior Court in April.
“After Durden was unsuccessful in his civil claim, I was troubled to hear that he was now trying to bring criminal charges against me,” Ellis said. “There was never any doubt in my mind this matter would be dismissed.
“Thankfully, this frivolous attempt to personally harass me is over.”