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Hill, Washington closer to court

GREENSBORO – A judge has been selected to hear the election challenge lodged by Vanessa Hill in the city’s mayoral election and copies of absentee ballots were expected to be handed over to her attorney on Thursday.

Walter Braswell, the Birmingham lawyer Hill has hired to represent her in court, was in Greensboro Thursday to collect copies of all absentee ballots cast in the mayor’s race, which J.B. Washington won on absentee votes.

Washington, contacted at city hall, did not return phone calls for this story.

The case has been on hold pending the appointment of a judge to hear the matter by

the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts.

“We made the request to AOC to assign somebody,” said Judge Jack Meigs.

In fact, Meigs and his two counterparts in the Fourth Judicial Circuit – Judge Marvin Wayne Wiggins and Judge Tommy Jones – recused themselves from the case, but Meigs said that wasn’t out of the ordinary.

“Generally it’s something that’s done [throughout Alabama],” he said, citing that when judges must themselves run for office, they all develop “ties” to the parties involved in an election challenge.

“Different judges have different ties, but my experience is you get a judge from outside the circuit [to hear an election dispute] – it’s just commonly done in Alabama but I can’t speak for everybody,” he said.

According to the AOC, Montgomery Judge William Shashy has been assigned the case, clearing the way for the challenge process to move forward.

“I’m just ready to move forward,” Hill said Thursday. “I wish it were over.”

Hill said that didn’t mean she wasn’t concerned for the voters in Greensboro.

“If he [Washington] won fair, I don’t have a problem with it but, if I’m never mayor, there’s corruption that needs to be tended to,” she said. “People need fair elections.”

Shashy is noted for his decision to move state prisoners out of county prisons, and fining prison commissioner Mike Haley $2.16 million for not complying with his order to accept county jail inmates. Shashy threatened to put Haley behind bars.

The state’s prison system was fighting a lawsuit filed by Alabama counties for its failure to accept inmates from county jails.

In an election-related case, Shashy ordered the state’s Republican Party to put a radio talk-show host its primary ballot.

Kelly McGinley sued the Alabama GOP after it removed her named from the party’s state school board primary, claiming she had been overly critical of the party.

Shashy ruled that although McGinley had made “strong criticisms” of the GOP, the party needed to establish a clear line of disqualification and had done so.