The Brantley Enterprise has notified three Brantley County constitutional officers of its intent to bring legal action against them for negligence after they botched an attempt to change the legal organ for 2014.
Ad litem notices were hand delivered Wednesday to the offices of probate court judge Johnnie Crews, clerk of courts Cindy Crews, and sheriff Jack Whisenant, the three tasked with naming the legal organ each year.
The three named The Brantley Enterprise the legal organ for the first time in five years last month and sent the official notification to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office on Dec. 23.
But Mittie Vaughan, the publisher of the county’s current legal organ, threatened legal action and refused to run the legal notice required by law, saying the county had missed the Jan. 1 deadline for publication also required by law.
After a flurry of meetings between county officials, the Express publisher and her attorney Phillip Golub of Blackshear, a statement signed by all three was released this week in which officials reneged on that decision and reinstated the Brantley Express as legal organ because of what they called the vague wording of the law.
However, the Enterprise warned in editorials published during the weeks just before Dec. 1 and in a meeting with Vaughan and the constitutional officers held in November that the law is very clear in its requirement that the change be advertised for four weeks in the current legal organ before it can take place.
“It’s a practical provision that is designed to notify anyone — especially attorney and government offices currently submitting notices — of the change,” said Ken Buchanan, publisher of the Enterprise.
“We believe the officials had ample notification of the requirement and bungled the application, causing the Enterprise great financial harm,” he said.
“That error, coupled with the county’s failure to alternate the legal organ between the newspapers over the last five years as they agreed to do, has made it impossible for the Enterprise to continue publication and it has suspended operations as of this week.”