Post II County Commission Democratic candidate Courtney Dillard has a history of facing serious charges - including possession of cocaine and battery of a minor - only to have them dismissed, according to research by the News. The 47-year-old candidate also currently has an active warrant in Newton County for a 2006 felony charge of deposit account fraud.
The incident involving the possession of cocaine charge occurred in July 22, 2004, when Dillard was arrested and charged by Atlanta police at 605 Boulevard Avenue. According to the police report, an officer saw Dillard sitting on a Lincoln Town Car "conducting hand-to-hand drug transactions." The officer approached the driver’s side window and saw a clear baggie of suspected cocaine in the ashtray.
After he was placed under arrest, Dillard reportedly identified the substance in the baggie as cocaine. "When asked how he intended to use the drug, the suspect stated that he snorted it," wrote the officer.
Lab tests later confirmed the substance was cocaine, less than one gram. A revolver was also found in the trunk of the car.
Investigation at the time of the arrest revealed Dillard had a previous charge from Denver for menacing with a deadly weapon on Aug. 18, 1987.
According to court documents, Dillard failed to appear in Fulton County Superior Court on Sept. 20, 2004, for a plea entry and arraignment hearing. Fulton County prosecutors were supposed to submit a court-ordered bench warrant for Dillard within three days of his failure to appear, but apparently failed to do so. The Fulton County Superior Court dismissed Dillard's charges on Sept. 24, 2004, stating "Whereas, the State has failed to timely submit to the Court said Bench Warrant ... it is hereby ordered that the above-styled action is dismissed."
The arrest warrant from Newton County was issued in Sept. 27, 2006 after a $700 check with Dillard’s signature, issued under Dillard-Winecoff, LLC, and made out to Erick Mathis, was brought to Covington Check Cashing on Ga. Highway 278 on May 12, 2006. According to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, the warrant is still active.
In Rockdale County, a Feb. 16, 2006 incident led to charges of battery and two counts of simple battery after Dillard punched a 16-year-old that he was coaching during a basketball game.
According to statements from witnesses, the referee, and the victim, Dillard reportedly called a time out and grabbed the victim, who was playing, on the floor.
"The kid was frustrated and the coach grabbed hold of him. When the kid broke free from his control, the coach punched him in the face and then all hell broke loose," wrote one witness.
Another witness described Dillard grabbing the player by the jersey, the player pushing Dillard away in the head, and Dillard punching the player in the jaw.
Dillard entered a guilty plea to one count of simple battery and was able to have the other counts dismissed. After he finished his sentence of 40 hours of community service and conflict resolution class, a nolle prosequi was entered for the simple battery charge conviction, effectively striking it from his record.
Dillard is involved in at least 24 cases in the Rockdale County court system, of which he is the defendant in 23 cases and the plaintiff in one case. Of those cases, two are adult criminal cases, seven are traffic violations, six are small claims cases, three are contract disputes, one is a paternity lawsuit, one is a title to land condemnation, one is related to failure to appear for jury duty, and one for failure to pay child support.
The paternity lawsuit was brought by Renee Johnson in April 2003, shortly after her son was born in January 2003. Dillard was ordered to pay $851 a month in child support and the $2,500 attorney fee.
Calls to Dillard were not returned by press time.
Republican candidate and incumbent Commissioner JaNice Van Ness was associated with at least 11 cases in the Rockdale County court system. Of those, she was the defendant in four cases and the plaintiff in three cases. Four of the cases involved garnishment of wages of employees at her business, Peachtree Academy, one was a traffic ticket and others seemed to involve financial or contract disputes, such as pricing for carpet cleaning services. Van Ness pointed out she is named in cases where the county is sued because of her position as Commissioner.
No criminal charges for VanNess turned up in Fayette County Superior Court, where she had lived for seven years before returning to Rockdale County.
William Brawley contributed to this article.