PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - A judicial candidate for Paulding County Superior court withdrew her candidacy as part of a deal that also prevents her father from running for re-election to the same seat.
Judicial Qualifications Commission Vice Chairman Lester Tate told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant that Elizabeth Osborne Williams agreed to withdraw her candidacy and that her father, James Osborne, won’t be able to qualify either.
The JQC has also agreed not to pursue ethics charges against Osborne or Williams following their investigation.
Earlier this week, Channel 2 Action News exposed concerns over what critics called an unethical scheme by Osborne and Williams to ensure that she succeeds her father to the bench.
Osborne qualified for re-election on March 3. On March 7, just hours before the deadline, Williams qualified for the May primary.
Osborne withdrew his candidacy the next business day and announced his retirement at the end of his term, leaving Williams as the only candidate on the May ballot for her father’s seat.
The Georgia Secretary of State's Office told Diamant that there are currently no candidates who qualified for the May primary and no write-in candidates have declared for the seat.
When Osborne's term expires there will be a vacancy on the bench and the governor will appoint a judge.
"This is an extraordinary circumstance that we've never seen before. We still have our legal team examining the code, but we've seen absolutely nothing that would allow us to re-open qualifying," spokesman Jared Thomas.