A Columbus man has filed a suit asking the Muscogee County Superior Court to force Probate Judge Julia Lumpkin and her chief clerk to carry out their assigned duties.
The petition for writ of mandamus — a court order that requires another court, government official, public body, corporation or individual to perform a certain act — was filed on behalf of a Columbus man July 10 after repeated attempts to get the Probate Judge’s office to deal with his request to have his guardianship changed, according to the suit.
The man’s attorney, Don Morgan, declined comment, but the suit and supporting documents lay out the issues with the Probate Court.According to the suit:
More than 20 years ago, the man’s mother was appointed her son’s guardian by Probate Judge Rudy Jones.Last November, she filed a petition with the Probate Court to resign as guardian and have another guardian appointed.
Lumpkin, because of a relationship with the family, recused herself and appointed Probate Court Chief Clerk Marc D’Antonio as the hearing officer.
According to the suit, the Probate Court has not done the following:
• Lumpkin has not entered a written order documenting her decision to recuse herself.
• Lumpkin has not entered a written order appointing a hearing officer.
• Lumpkin has failed to appoint a county administrator as required by state law. The county administrator would act as guardian if another guardian could not be found.
Attempts to reach Lumpkin during office hours were unsuccessful. Lumpkin, an elected official, declined comment through Assistant City Attorney Jaimie DeLoach.
Though the suit was filed in July, Lumpkin and D’Antonio were served last week, DeLoach said.The normal procedure when a judge is sued is to bring in a Superior Court judge from outside the Chattahoochee Circuit to hear the matter.
However, if the matter has already been resolved, for example when an order has been issued by the Probate Court, then the Superior Court suit becomes “moot” or a non-issue.
“At this point, it appears moot,” DeLoach said.
The Probate Court case is sealed because of the nature of the proceedings, DeLoach said.
The suit outlines five times D’Antonio has failed to act.
• Motion for pretrial conference, April 3.
• Motion for payment of attorney fees, June 16.
• Motion for summary judgment, June 16.
• Motion for temporary substitute guardian and temporary conservator, June 30.
• Motion to compel answers to interrogatories, July 8.
According to the suit, there were two instances where D’Antonio “grossly abused his discretion.” Those include:
• Failure to appoint a temporary guardian and conservator.
• Failure to schedule a hearing or rule on any of the above referenced motions.