Courts news

A motion seeking to force a Floyd County judge to recuse himself from presiding over a case involving the theft of over $6 million from the Floyd County school system is being reviewed by a senior judge from Cobb County following a Thursday morning hearing.

Judge Adele Grubbs presided over two hearings Thursday morning with requests Niedrach recuse himself from two separate cases involving local schools.

Grubbs made it clear to both sides during the hearing that she will not be ruling on the case on Thursday because of the complicated nature of the cases. She stated she will reach her conclusion by the week of Independence Day.

Albert Palmour, a Summerville-based attorney, who is representing Dwayne Richardson, argued Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach has a conflict of interest since his son is a partner for the firm who handled the civil case for the county schools.

The civil case was finalized in early 2018 and recouped some of the money the defendants are accused of taking.

According to Palmour, Niedrach went on record earlier this year stating he had a potential conflict of interest due to his son Lee being a partner of McRae, Smith, Peek, Harman & Monroe, LLP while the civil case was being handled by their firm.

“When a judge announces there is a conflict there is a conflict,” Palmour said.

Assistant District Attorney Emily Johnson argued judges are mandated to state any conflicts of interest by law to give attorneys the opportunity to file a motion of recusal. According to her, Judge Niedrach followed the rules set forth by the state and having a relative in the legal profession should not disqualify.

Motions of recusal have a certain amount of time to be filed, Grubbs said. Unless Niedrach set up a different deadline through a scheduling order, Palmour’s motion may be denied due to it not being filed in a timely manner. Grubbs said she will be looking for a scheduling order from Niedrach in the case file.

Lee Niedrach was called up to the stand by Johnson to answer questions about his involvement with the civil RICO case.

He testified that he had no knowledge or information about the case other than what he read in the newspaper. The only time he could be linked to the case was when he helped move seized vehicles at the request of another partner. At that time, he said he did not know it was related to the civil RICO case.

At this point 13 people are charged in the criminal case as well as Richardson’s brother Derry Richardson, the former maintenance director at the school system. According to the indictment, the defendants are accused of conspiring to steal over $6 million from the school system.

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