A Georgia judge on Thursday dismissed seven of nine claims in a Fulton County election lawsuit while allowing two to proceed that require the county to produce digital images of some 150,000 mail-in ballots that are at the center of plaintiffs’ allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
In an order (pdf), Henry County Superior Court Chief Judge Brian Amero ruled that the respondents of the lawsuit—Fulton County, Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections, and Fulton County Clerk of Superior and Magistrate Courts—could not be defendants in the suit due to sovereign immunity protections. However, Amero granted a request by the plaintiffs to add five named individual members of Fulton County’s Board of Registration and Elections as respondents in the case, essentially keeping the suit alive.
Don Samuel, an attorney for the Fulton County elections board, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there are plans to seek the rest of the lawsuit dismissed. He also said Amero’s ruling means the plaintiffs cannot inspect the absentee ballots with high-powered microscopes as they had intended.
“That litigation is finished,” Samuel told the outlet. “Is there going to be an audit? Not right now. … There’s no discovery permitted. There’s no lawsuit pending anymore.”
The lead plaintiff in the case, Garland Favorito, said in a statement he viewed Amero’s order as a win.
“We are pleased that the court has ruled in our favor again for the fifth time. The ruling substitutes Defendants by replacing currently named government organizations with individual board members we named originally in our lawsuit. It also moots Don Samuels’ attempt to dismiss our case. This continues the string of victories we have including how we obtained the original protective order, conditional approval to inspect ballots, access to ballot images, and the order to unseal the ballots.”
Bob Cheeley, lead attorney for two of the petitioners, told Just the News that he believes the ruling will allow the complainants to “get an audit and get to the truth.”
“This is a huge victory for everyone who wants to get to the truth about the way in which Fulton County mishandled the absentee ballot count,” he told the outlet.
The plaintiffs in the case secured a win last month, when Amero ordered Fulton County to allow the group led by Favorito to inspect scanned images of 147,000 mail-in ballots.
Cheeley said in court recently that the examiners would use “high-powered microscopes” in the examination, if approved by the judge.
If granted, the audit would be one of the largest independent reviews in the nation conducted after the 2020 election.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.