Second challenge filed in race for court clerk
by Jon Gillooly
June 09, 2012 12:32 AM | 5917 views | 18 18 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Cobb Board of Elections will meet Monday to consider a request to remove attorney Rebecca Keaton from the Superior Court Clerk race.

Keaton is one of three Republican candidates running in the July 31 primary to replace retiring Cobb Superior Court Clerk Jay Stephenson.

The elections board was already set to consider a request to prevent Joan Davis from running, but on Friday attorney Michael Carvalho of west Cobb filed a challenge asking it to bump Keaton from the ballot as well.

Carvalho argues that Keaton failed to follow election rules, which state that on the date of qualifying for office, the candidate must certify the name of the person they will appoint as their deputy clerk, if elected, with the Cobb Probate Court.

Carvalho said Keaton qualified on May 24, but didn’t file the name of Jason Shepherd as her running mate with the Probate Court until May 25. She then amended that filing by whiting out Shepherd’s name and writing in Kimberly Carroll in its place.

“It is not filed the same date that Ms. Keaton qualified. Accordingly, it should not be considered as a proper certification,” Carvalho writes in his June 8 challenge.

Keaton, who lives in Kennesaw, dismissed the argument.

“It’s a baseless challenge filed by a John Skelton supporter,” she said.

Skelton, a Powder Springs resident, is the third Republican running for superior court clerk seat.

The base salary of the new superior court clerk will be $109,425, while the salary of the deputy superior court clerk is $95,440, county spokesman Robert Quigley said.

Carvalho said that as someone who spends a lot of his practice in Cobb Superior Court, he has a keen interest in making sure that court functions properly. So when he saw that both Skelton and Keaton had qualified for office, he went to visit their websites.

“I had known Mr. Skelton for some time, and I had some interactions with Ms. Keaton,” Carvalho said. “I had gone to Mr. Skelton’s website to check it out, and to my utter astonishment I was redirected to Rebecca Keaton’s website.”

Carvalho tried typing “” into the computer again and was again redirected to Keaton’s website.

“And then it became very clear that Mrs. Keaton thought that would be a cute thing to do,” Carvalho said. “That really got my attention. I know Mr. Skelton to be a very intelligent, thoughtful attorney and think he’d make a very good clerk of superior court, but with this kind of nonsense, I mean, we need some adults in charge, you know?”

Carvalho said Skelton had not asked him to file the challenge.

“I discussed it with my colleagues, I discussed it with the Cobb Consumer Attorneys Bar, and the consensus was we needed to respond to this particularly in light of the fact that there’s a timing issue here,” Carvalho said.

As an attorney, Carvalho depends on the court clerk to properly handle the complaints he files in court.

“If I file a complaint, for example, in Superior Court, and I miss the statute of limitations, I’m out of luck, my client’s out of luck, and I’m putting my malpractice carrier on notice,” he said. “Timing and filing is probably the most important thing a clerk can do, and if Mrs. Keaton doesn’t understand those rules and how that works, then that’s a significant issue. It goes right to her qualification to be in this position.”

On Tuesday, Marietta attorney Alan Manheim asked the elections board on behalf of his client, Barry J. Schwartz, who lives in the Cumberland area, to boot candidate Joan Davis from the ballot as well. Manheim’s objection is that Davis listed the current chief deputy clerk, Elva Dornbusch, as her running mate even though Dornbusch wants nothing to do with Davis.

Manheim also objected to Davis describing herself as a lawyer on the qualifying form because the Supreme Court of Georgia disbarred Davis earlier this year.

Davis, who also lives in Powder Springs, plans to defend herself at Monday’s meeting.

Carvalho said it was ridiculous that Davis was even running.

“As you probably know, she’s been disbarred as an attorney,” he said. “I think that says everything. What segment of our society would want a disbarred lawyer running an important position at the Superior Court? It’s silly and it’s ridiculous. We need some adults in charge, and right now the adult in the race is John Skelton.”

Skelton said while he was unaware of the challenge brought against Davis until alerted by the media, he did know about Keaton filing the name of her deputy clerk on a different day from when she qualified for office. Skeleton said he shared that fact with friends and supporters, of which Carvalho is one, but didn’t participate with Carvalho in filing the challenge.

“I appreciate his vigilance,” Skelton said. “I appreciate Mr. Schwartz and Alan Manheim representing him that there are rules for qualification, and if the rules aren’t followed then it seems to me that if you’re not willing to follow rules for qualifying, and if you’re in office where there are a lot more rules that have greater impact on folks that becomes a problem, and it could affect the office and the county as a whole.

“There are a lot of rules the clerk of the superior court has to abide by and has to follow in accepting filings, accepting cases and administering that position, and if they’re not met we’re going to have chaos.”

The meeting begins at 4 p.m. Monday at the elections office, located at 736 Whitlock Ave. in Marietta.

There are no Democrats running, so the winner of the primary will in all likelihood become the Superior Court clerk.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Grow up
June 10, 2012
Really....who cares if someone changes their Deputy, what matters is when filing closes who their Deputy is, real good Mr. Skelton wasting Cobb County TAX payers money (you rank up there with Obama).
June 20, 2012
You clearly don't know Mr. Skelton if you're comparing him to Obama! They could not be more different. That shows your ignorance or blind loyalty to one of the perpetual candidates (I'm guessing Keaton. Her deputy supports Obama by the way). Do some research before you run your ignorant mouth!
"GrowUp" is Ignorant
June 30, 2012
To rank with the president is the best complement someone could receive. If you want to hurt someone, tell them they act like a republican. "Grow up," you need to grow up and appreciate that the outstanding Barack O'Bama is your president. Our country would be in the toilet if the republicans still were in change. They're not qualified to run anything. Thank you, God.
Know who I'll choose
June 10, 2012
Altering a filed court document should be considered a fraudulent act and be prosecuted as such.
June 10, 2012
Of course, Keaton should not be our Clerk of Court. How she diverted Mr. Skelton's website is one small example of her personality -- she has no integrity. Certainly Davis doesn't have the personal qualities we need in a clerk, and I only know Skelton in passing; I don't think I've said 10 words to him in all the decades I've known of him; but, I've observed Keaton pretty closely in all these decades because she's always trying to throw herself in the limelight -- She's exceptionally dishonest. She cannot be the guardian of our records -- it's just like you certainly wouldn't want her taking care of your bank account or family. If Keaton is made the clerk, Cobb County will regret it. She's seriously going to embarrass us -- she can't change her personality.
Cobb Native
June 10, 2012
This is just another great reason to vote for John Skelton. I will be doing that and I am actively asking my friends to do the same on July 31. He will do a great job as our next clerk. I sure would like to be a fly on the wall at that meeting on Monday though. Those two ladies should be banned from all future elections. It's amazing to me that they can still find supporters after so many failed attempts to do the same thing. There is clearly a reason that Keaton and Davis keep losing. They simply are not capable of doing the jobs that they seek. Do the right thing on July 31 and vote for Skelton. You won't be disappointed.
For Transparency
June 09, 2012
"A baseless challenge filed by a John Skelton supporter." No mention of the fact that Ms. Keaton lists Mr. Manheim on her endorsement page of her website - so is the challenge of Ms. Davis a baseless challenge by a Rebecca Keaton supporter?
The hits keep coming
June 09, 2012
This is great entertainment! I'm going to laugh my fanny off if John Skelton beats Bamboozle Becky and Disbarred Davis by default! Gotta love karma!
June 09, 2012
I went to Reba Keaton website and to me it looks like a sorority girl facebook page with pictures of fat old white people in too much make up and big hair. Her "Endorsements" page list a bunch of names but not any endorsements. What is that suppose to be? She endorses them?

I went to Joan Davis website and it says she is running for judge, not clerk. Is she run for judge or clerk? I don't know.

Skelton looks like old white guy. I guess he win.
Cobb Taxpayer
June 09, 2012
How could this be possible - candidates for Court Clerk not being able to follow procedures, rules and protocalls - Wow, what a mess ?
West Cobb Conservati
June 09, 2012
Skelton woudn't be a bad choice exept for his running mate. She has issues!
June 09, 2012
Wow... Keaton really blew her filing. First she didn't include the name of her chief deputy when she filed as required. Instead she did it a day later.

Then, she "whited out" the name to change the filing.

I would hope the rules do not allow this.

I would hope that there is an audit trail where revisions to documents already on file are recorded so that all proceedengs are accurately recorded.

If this is not the case, there are some very serious problems that need to be addressed.

And the web site trick is juvenile and poorly thought out. It says something about Keaton to those looking to compare and contrast the candidates.

She makes it difficult.

This changed my vote to Skelton.

I don't like tricks.
Rule changers
June 09, 2012

“I appreciate his vigilance,” Skelton said. “I appreciate Mr. Schwartz and Alan Manheim representing him that there are rules for qualification, and if the rules aren’t followed then it seems to me that if you’re not willing to follow rules for qualifying, and if you’re in office where there are a lot more rules that have greater impact on folks that becomes a problem, and it could affect the office and the county as a whole.

Be careful what you say, it could come back on you.

Rule Changers
June 09, 2012
Do you have to be a lawyer to be the court clerk? Does it even require a degree? The answer to both questions is, "NO!! Looks like people want to change the laws to fit their plattforms.

Are any if the current clerks in either state or superior court lawyers and how many in the past were?
June 11, 2012
The issue is not whether you need to be a lawyer to be the Superior Court Clerk. The issue is that Ms. Davis signed a sworn affidavit stating her profession is a "lawyer" even after her disbarment Order expressly directed her to take heed of the rule to never describe herself,in any way, as a lawyer. At the hearing, she stated, also sworn testimony, that she was not aware of that rule. But the Supreme Court Order disbarring her, in its very last sentence, instructed and directed her to that rule! She is NOT Superior Court Clerk material if she can't even follow one order directed to her by the Georgia Supreme Court!
June 09, 2012
I agree with John Skelton on this matter. If you're not going to follow the rules or perhaps think you are above the rules, then there is a good chance you won't follow the rules once you are in office. We need some integrity in this office, and John Skelton has certainly demonstrated that. I have known John casually for several years and know that he is an honest man and one that Cobb County needs in office.
Web Master
June 09, 2012
Don't know how filing works but a web site administer can have their site redirect to another site, just saying. One thing if its such a big deal with Mr. Skelton's web site redirecting to Ms. Keaton then why hasn't Mr. Skelton taken it down? 
Tax payer
July 28, 2012
Duh?! Ok, following the rules, and redirecting websites might have its importance, but is anyone questioning these salaries? Grant it, it's not the decision at hand, but how did we get here? What administrative position in the private sector gets this salary?
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