Newton County Attorney W.T. “Tommy” Craig and attorney Edward Tolley filed a response to Sam Hay’s lawsuit against Newton County Monday, answering several allegations that the county did not answer open records requests and seeking legal fees from Hay.
The legal action states that Hay was colluding and conspiring with Billy Durden to extort money from Newton County and seeks that his case be dismissed, Durden be made a party to the action, judgement against the two be taken, along with recompense be made to Newton County and past court-ordered penalties to Hay be paid.
Hay filed his lawsuit against Newton County in September, claiming failure to disclose all records requested in relation to a lawsuit filed by Durden. Durden sued the county after he was terminated from his lawn maintenance contract with Newton County. Durden and the county settled on June 8.
Legal action between Durden and the county continued when his attorney, (and the same attorney for Hay in his lawsuit) John Strauss, filed a Motion for Remand in the court of appeals concerning Open Records Act request on communications between former County Manager John Middleton and county commissioners.
After the motion was dismissed, Hay filed his own suit in early September.
In Craig’s legal action filed Monday, he argues that the complaints against Newton County are false. Also, among the 33 statements submitted by Craig, one makes the claim that Hay and Durden are in a conspiracy to commit theft by extortion and have attempted theft by extortion … and evidence regarding same is admissible to show knowledge, intent, and plan to threaten and harass Newton County and its employees and officials.
Among the evidence of conspiracy and collusion “to extort money from Newton County by filing an application for arrest warrant against Newton County Commissioners Chairman Keith Ellis” is a video “surreptitiously” recorded by Durden that was referenced on Hay’s Facebook page multiple times.
One such post submitted by Craig as evidence states “I’ve said this before and I will say it again, if the county commissioners are not smart enough to stop this mess by offering a settlement on the $100,000 case in exchange for Mr. Durden’s assurance he will not file any more lawsuits against Newton County, we can just write them off as the dumbest bunch of jerks who were ever assemble din one place at the same time. And you what, some may possibly face criminal charges. I would hate to be sitting in their seats.”
In the legal filing, Craig is also asking that legal fees be paid by Hay. Other cases in which legal fees were ordered to be paid by Hay were also submitted, with request that those fees be paid back.
The counterclaim stats that former Newton County Superior Court Judge Marvin Sorrells awarded attorney’s fees in the amount of $1.050 against Samuel M. Hay III on Feb. 12, 2001 and $2,087.04 against Sam M. Hay III on April 11, 2001. Evidence was also provided showing U.S. District Court for Northern District of Georgia Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. awarded attorney’s fees for $4,800 against Sam M. Hay III on Jan. 12, 2004.
In a statement of Bad Faith submitted by Craig, the Newton County Attorney says “As shown in the above counterclaim for Contempt, (Hay) has a pattern and practice of filing frivolous actions against Newton County, its officials, commissioners and counsel. Plaintiff’s instant action is characteristic of the actions before it.”