If a community’s municipal lawyers are an ethics barometer, Albany may be in deep trouble.
The City of Albany’s city attorney, assistant city attorney, Municipal Court Judge and solicitor have all been accused recently of committing crimes.
The latest taxpayer-paid Albany attorney to face the wrong side of the law is city Solicitor Tony C. Jones, the Municipal Court prosecutor who was allowed to resign after having his license to practice law suspended for 18 months.
Also under fire recently:
- Municipal Court Judge Willie Weaver remains suspended with pay while he undergoes therapy following his arrest for domestic violence. The District Attorney’s Office says that the criminal charge will be dismissed pending Weaver’s compliance with court-ordered counseling.
- City Attorney Nathan Davis illegally brought a handgun to his office in the Albany police station, but was not prosecuted.
- Assistant City Attorney Jenise Smith is accused in public records and a Georgia Bar Association complaint of perjury.
Jones was allowed to resign from his city job when the Georgia Supreme Court suspended him for 18 months abandoning a client who hired him in a civil case.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said:
“We find that in or about August 2007, a client retained Jones to file a contempt action against the client’s ex-wife. Jones filed the petition, but thereafter did not take any action on the client’s behalf. He failed to communicate with the client; failed to respond to the client’s calls and e-mails; failed to provide the client with information about his case despite promising to do so; and failed to tell the client that his ex-wife had filed a counterclaim. Jones continued multiple hearings in the matter without notifying the client. When the court scheduled a hearing in the matter for October 2008, Jones did not notify the client or attend the hearing on his behalf. In the end, the court entered an order dismissing the client’s contempt action and finding against him on his ex-wife’s counterclaim. Jones did not notify the client about the court’s order, and the client did not become aware of it until he realized his wages were being garnished.”
Meanwhile, public records obtained last year by The Albany Journal revealed that Davis kept a loaded gun in his office, which is a criminal violation. Assistant Attorney Kathy Strang discovered the gun in Davis’ desk, confidentially reported the crime to the city human resources staff, and was subsequently fired. Then City Manager Alfred Lott, who initially refused to uphold Strang’s firing, changed course after being encouraged to do so by the City Commission. Noting that Davis also had a combat knife in his office drawer, Lott claims that Davis, too, should be fired because he is mentally unstable.
Davis was suspended for three days, but the City Commission refused to turn the matter over to police or the District Attorney’s Office for investigation or prosecution.
In a separate matter, Mary LaMont, the city’s former human resources director, has provided documentation that she says supports her earlier claim that Smith lied under oath during a state labor hearing. But Smith says LaMont is the one who is lying.
At issue is Smith’s testimony during LaMont’s Georgia Department of Labor unemployment compensation hearing following LaMont’s 2010 departure from city hall; the city’s position statement on a discrimination complaint filed by a fired city worker; and audio tapes of city hall discussions secretly recorded by LaMont.
Providing the Labor Department hearing transcript and other public records as evidence, LaMont detailed her allegations that Smith committed perjury in a June 27 letter to the Georgia Bar Association and in a July 5 letter to the Albany City Commission.