ATLANTA (CN) - The challenge to a court document filing system run by Lexis Nexis in Atlanta has taken a new twist, with the transfer to an outside judge of a motion seeking to disqualify every judge in Fulton County where the private vendor-based filing system is in place.
DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Robert Castellani will hear the motion for disqualification and recusal of all Fulton County State and Superior Court Judges.
Attorney Steven J. Newton claims that Fulton County State and Superior Courts are wrongly charging fees through mandatory electronic filings on the and LexisNexis-Courtlink's File and Serve system.
In November, Fulton County claimed that Newton's motion to recuse was "filed over three months after the filing of the original complaint, at which time plaintiffs concede they were already aware of their bases for requesting recusal."
But Newton and the attorneys he represents say their motion to recuse was filed timely because their original complaint contained a request for disqualification of all Fulton County judges.
Fulton County disagreed, stating that the "plaintiffs did not present such evidence in the form of an accompanying affidavit at the time of filing their unverified complaint."
In its motion to dismiss in November, Reed Elsevier accused the plaintiffs of trying to "mislead this court by saying its motion for recusal is a result of Reed's argument that the government defendants are necessary parties[;] the reality is plaintiffs requested in their prayer for relief in their initial complaint filed on May 14, 2009, 'that this court transfer this matter to a trial judge from outside the Atlanta Judicial Circuit to adjudicate these claims.'"
Reed Elsevier also opposes the plaintiffs' motion for class certification; and it claims that activity in the case was supposed to stop until the motion for disqualification had been resolved.
Reed claims the court in October ordered that all other activity in the case should cease, but the plaintiffs have continued to file pleadings.
"As a result, so that there could be no confusion with respect to Reed's objection to class certification, Reed, with apologies to the court, filed and served its response to plaintiffs' motion for class certification."
This is Newton's third claim against Fulton County and Reed Elsevier.
He represents W. Phillip McCurdy III, Michael Cawthon, Nelson Picklesimer, Kenneth Clowdus as administrator for the estate of Kenneth Larry Clowdus, The Best Jewelry Manufacturing Company and Does.
"This class action arises from an illegal scheme perpetuated by defendant Reed Elsevier Inc. dba Lexis-Nexis Courtlink Inc. to impose an unlawful, mandatory e-filing system upon litigants in Fulton County State and Superior Courts and to charge excessive and unauthorized fees in connection therewith," the complaint states. "Defendant Fulton County has participated in Lexis' illegal scheme by promulgating a 'pilot program' authorizing Lexis' unlawful mandatory e-filing scheme and excessive fees without the statutory authority to do so."
Newton sued Lexis-Nexis Courtlink and Fulton County in Federal Court in December 2007 but withdrew it in March 2008. He refiled the complaint in June 2008, and the case was dismissed in March this year.
In the dismissed case, the other defendants were Mark Harper, chief clerk of the Fulton County State Court; A.L. Thompson, Fulton County State Court chief judge; Doris L. Downs, Fulton County Superior Court chief judge; and Cathlene "Tina" Robinson, clerk of the Fulton County Superior Court.
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