by: Richard Elliot Updated:
Testimony began Tuesday morning in the lawsuit filed by the former head of the State Ethics Commission, and even though a judge ruled Governor Nathan Deal does not have to testify, attorneys are keeping him front and center during the trial.
Stacey Kalberman is suing the Ethics Commission, claiming it forced her out of her job as director after she opened an investigation into Deal's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. She said the commission decided to cut her pay by 35-percent after she showed them draft subpoenas she was preparing to deliver. Kalberman resigned shortly afterwards.
Kalberman's attorney told jurors that they were not there to decide anything to do with Deal, but at the same time, she had a large flow chart next to her with the governor picture at the very top.
"The governor is not a defendant in this case," Kim Worth told jurors. "The governor is not on trial in this case. You will not be asked at the end of this trial to determine the guilt or innocence of anything that Deal did."
Ethics Commission lawyer echoed Worth's statements.
"The defendant in this case is not the governor," said Bryan Webb. "It is not the governor's office. It is not the governor's campaign. I'm not here to defend the governor, and I'm not going to try to defend him."
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville ruled Monday that Kalberman hadn't done enough to prove Deal could provide any information relevant in her case.
The Ethics Commission maintained it cut Kalberman's salary and removed her chief deputy because of a barebones budget, but Worth said that was just a smokescreen.
"There's no coincidence," said Worth. "They're suddenly hiding behind budget as a means to stop the Deal investigation from going forward."
Former Ethics Commission Chair Patrick Milsap also testfied Tuesday afternoon. The trial will continue Wednesday.