Coleman received a sentence of 12 months’ probation, 80 hours of community service, a required anger and violence evaluation and a $600 fine, in addition to court costs.
Coleman waived his right to a jury trial and agreed to the plea bargain his lawyers made with assistant solicitor general Annamarie Baltz.
Baltz said the plea bargain called for Coleman to admit guilt to one count of simple assault for unlawfully engaging in an act “which placed Annette Lewis in reasonable apprehension of receiving a violent injury,” which was to “point his finger in her face and push her hand away from in front of her face.”
Cobb State Judge Irma Glover asked Coleman how he wished to plead.
“Guilty,” said Coleman, dressed in a navy blue suit and flanked by his two lawyers, Marietta attorney Tom Browning and Browning’s son, Tyler Browning.
Coleman, who said little else during the sentencing, declined to comment afterward.
The only person in the audience besides the Journal was Coleman’s mother, Juanita Carmichael.
Tom Browning said a trial would have disrupted the Marietta city government.
“City Hall would be a complete wreck if there was a trial,” he said. “They got 40 witnesses — some of them are city councilmen, the Mayor, Bill Bruton, they interviewed the paper, they interviewed everybody that was at that meeting, a bunch of city employees, this would (wreak) havoc on what I think is a well-functioning city.
“City Hall works great. They have little disputes here and there, but this would just tear it apart. I think it’s better for all, it’s better for Anthony, better for Annette, better for the councilmen, better for the city. Everybody’s working together, their working relationship is good, and a trial I think would irreparably change all that.”
Tom Browning pointed out that assault is placing someone in fear of receiving an injury, whereas battery is the actual act of injuring someone.
Judge Glover granted Coleman first offender status, which means Coleman wouldn’t have a criminal record after he serves his probation, Tom Browning said.
Tyler Browning said Coleman has been seeing a therapist in anticipation of the possible requirement for anger management.
“It’s up to the probation office whether or not they accept that as part of what is required in this plea or if they require him to do something else,” he said.
When contacted Wednesday evening, Mayor Steve Tumlin said he knows nothing in the law that would restrict Coleman’s role as a city councilman while under probation.
“I hope this closes the matter,” Tumlin said. “I believe in the process and Mr. Coleman had to go through the process, and it sounds like it’s been resolved with the proper consequences weighed and assessed by the court. I’m glad there is closure to this, because it affected each and every one of us on the City Council. We don’t like to see tension of anybody involved in this incident, and we’re delighted it’s reached a resolution.”
Tumlin said he was also pleased that the incident, however unpleasant, was not “swept under the rug.”
“I think you’ll see the redistricting process go forward,” Tumlin said. “I think everybody on Council will respect the decision Mr. Coleman chose to make in working with the court and put this behind us and move forward.”
Coleman was arrested on Dec. 2 on simple battery and assault charges stemming from an incident with Lewis on Sept. 22.
On Sept. 22, Coleman and Lewis allegedly argued after the city redistricting committee, at which Lewis presented a redistricting map that created a federally required majority-black ward on the southern edge of town, away from both Coleman’s north-central Ward 5 and his home, which could cost Coleman his seat on the Council.
While walking to the parking lot from City Hall after that night’s meeting, Coleman allegedly cursed at Lewis and placed his hands on her, leaving a bruise on her shoulder, which she later photographed and handed over to investigators.
The matter brought the city’s redistricting work to a halt.
Lewis could not be reached for comment.