The 11th District Court of Appeals, in a decision filed Wednesday, has decided to “vacate and remand” the decision made at the district court level to award summary judgment against the Fayette County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education in favor of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and ten African-American Fayette County voters included as appellees.
In essence, the decision sends the case back to the district court level for a possible trial. This was an outcome that seemed likely given many of the comments made by the Appeals Court Judges during oral arguments in December.
The decision has significant implications. If the county and Board of Education are successful in the case, the recent election may be invalidated. This election showed that the districts established by the NAACP’s lawsuit were successful in electing one black candidate, Pota Coston, to the commission. Democrat candidate Leonard Presberg also won in the newly established majority-minority fifth district by a similar margin as Coston, getting close to 70-percent of the vote.
The decision also means more money will be spent on the case. The Board of Education’s own lawyer told the Appeals Court judges that a trial in this case would be costly.
Legal fees released in December showed the county commission had already spent around $435,000 in this case. The Board of Education has spent nearly $310,000.
Further details will be available in the Saturday edition of Fayette County News and Today in Peachtree City.