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IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF COLUMBIA COUNTY

2015 JUri -3 PH 4: 02

STATE OF GEORGIA
SHANNON BASKIN,
PLAINTIFF,
Vs.
GARY M. HALE,
DEFENDANT
VS.
CINDY MASON, Clerk of Superior
Court,
DEFENDANT IN CONTEMPT

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COLUMBIA COUNTY GEORGI.t\

CIVIL ACTION FILE


NO.2014D0305

AFFIDAVIT OF CINDY MASON


Personally appeared before the undersigned attesting authority, duly authorized to
administer oaths, CINDY MASON, who after first being duly sworn, states:

1.

That she is the Clerk of the Superior Court of Columbia County, Georgia having

been first elected in November 2000, and re-elected in November 2004, November 2008, and
November 2012.

Prior to being elected Clerk of the Superior Court of Columbia County,

Georgia, she had worked in the Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Richmond County,
Georgia for ten (10) years beginning in 1976 until 1986. In 1986, affiant became a court reporter
for the Honorable Bernard 1. Mulherin, Sr., and served as such until his retirement, and then
became court report for Judge Carl C. Brown, Jr. Affiant is still a certified court reporter and has
kept her credentials as such.

RECORDtD ..t: SCANNED IN

MIN11TI!iAl

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2.

That she is active in the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia, currently

serving as Second Vice President, which is a state agency created by a.e.G.A. 15-6-50.2 and
is active in the Superior Court Clerks Association of Georgia, Inc.
3.

That as Clerk of the Superior Court of Columbia County, Georgia, affiant is a

constitutional officer of the State of Georgia as set forth in the Georgia Constitution, Art. 9, Sec.
1, Para. 3. Affiant is bound to comply with the laws of the State of Georgia as set forth in

a.e.G.A. 15-6-50, et seq. The powers of the Clerk of the Superior Court are set forth in
a.e.G.A. 15-6-60 and the duties are set forth in a.c.G.A.

Affiant has performed

those duties according to law, and has never willfully disobeyed any order of any of the Judges
of the Superior Courts of the Augusta Judicial Circuit.
4.

That in connection with the filing of documents, she files documents in the Office

of the Clerk in the same manner as every other clerk in the State of Georgia and complies with
Uniform Superior Court Rule 36.3, that is, each and every document or pleading presented for
filing in the Superior Court which bears a separate caption and a description of the pleading or
document is filed separately.
5.

That she is required by a.e.G.A. 15-6-61 (a)(5) to keep papers filed, arranged,

numbered and labeled so as to be of easy reference. This requires that each filing that has a
separate caption of the case, case number and a description be filed as a separate document so
that it can be properly indexed.
6.

That the manner in which she complies with her ministerial duties are consistent

with state law.


7.

That she has not willfully or intentionally violated any orders of the Superior

Court of the Augusta Judicial Circuit, including an order signed by The Honorable 1. Carlisle

Overstreet dated January 13, 2015 that forms the basis of the Citation for Contempt issued by
Judge 1. David Roper against her
8.

That in connection with allegations that Judge Roper sent her certain emails

relating to filings in the above-captioned case, including emails allegedly sent on 04/08/2015 and
04/28/2015, she did not receive those emails and that fact has been confirmed by her IT
employee who has informed her that said emails were rejected as SPAM.
9.

That when documents are attached to an original pleading without a separate

caption, then those documents are filed as a complete document. However, when documents
contain a separate caption and a separate description of the pleading or document as that term is
used in Uniform Superior Court Rule 36.3, she has filed that document as exactly what it is. For
instance, if a parenting plan does not contain a separate caption and is attached as an exhibit and
is normally seven (7) pages in length, it would not be filed and docketed separately. However, if
the parenting plan contains a separate caption and description title of what it is, then it is filed as
a separate document, as required by Uniform Court Rule 36.3 provides. In connection with a
child support worksheet, if that document contains a caption as required by Uniform Superior
Court Rule 36.3 and a description title of what it is, it would be filed as a separate docwnent. If
it does not have a caption and is merely an attachment, it would be filed with the documents to
which it is attached. That is the manner by which she has in good faith interpreted the order of
The Honorable J. Carlisle Overstreet.
10.

That Judge Overstreet has never requested or told the undersigned differently and

she believes that she has in good faith complied with her duties.
11.

That the citation for contempt filed against her was brought by Superior Court

Judge 1. David Roper and was "filed" with him, not with the Clerk's Office, on May 27, 2015.

No citation for contempt has been filed by Judge Roper with the Superior Court of Columbia
County and she was served only with the Citation for Contempt on June 1, 2014 by Lt. Daniel
Berry of the Columbia County Sheriffs Department. She was informed by Lt. Berry that he had
been given special instructions by Judge Roper to serve her as Clerk of the Superior Court of
Columbia County, Georgia, and to return the Citation and Sheriff's Entry of Service directly to
him (Judge Roper) for filing.

The undersigned understands that, under the provisions of

O.C.G.A. 15-6-61(a)(17), such motions as this are to be filed with the Clerk of the Superior
Court, together with a civil case initiation form. This was not done in this particular case and the
filing has been done with the Judge of the Superior Court, not in open court, and not with the
Clerk.
12.

That even though the caption of the case for which she is being cited for contempt

shows that she is a party, she has never been made a party, is not a person needed for the just
adjudication of the disputes between the parties, and believes that this action being taken by
Judge Roper is based upon his desire to control how documents are filed with the Clerk of the
Court regardless of Uniform Superior Court Rules.
13.

That she was never notified of any proceeding or hearing relating to the January

13, 2015 Order of Judge Overstreet. No allegation has been made by Judge Roper or any of the
parties to this case that the Clerk has failed to perform any duty or to exercise any authority as
set forth in Art. 2 ofO.C.G.A. 15-6-1, et seq., O.e.G.A. 15-6-50 thru O.e.G.A. 15-6-100,
or the Uniform Superior Court Rules.
14.

That, as she understands the issues in this case, there has been a gag order issued

in the underlying case between the parties. In connection with the appeal of that order, a notice
of appeal has been filed and a designation of those portions of the record to be included has also

been filed as required by D.C.G.A. 5-6-37. As she understands the law, D.e.G.A. 5-6-42
allows another party to designate additional parts of the record if that party so desires. She, as
Clerk of the Court, only sends up on appeal that part of the record that is designated by the
. parties, unless the appellate court so orders. In this case, the filing of documents separately as
required by Uniform Superior Court Rule 36.3 is being objected to by Judge Roper who has no
right to decide what is and what is not in the record on appeal.
15.

That affiant believes that Judge Roper has a personal interest in this case; that,

based upon infonnation and belief, he has contacted news media; and that the filing of this
Citation for Contempt against the undersigned is being done to embarrass or to cause the
undersigned unnecessary trouble and expense. See article Augusta Superior Court Judge files

citation for contempt against Columbia County Clerk of Court, Augusta Chronicle, May 30,
2015,

http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/Augusta-Superior-Court-Judge-to-file-contempt-

citation-against-Columbia-County-Clerk-of-Court-305587351.html?device=phone&c=y.
16.

That from a practical point of view, the performing of her duties in the way she

has performed those duties is more economical for parties who need copies of divorce decrees in
the future.

Parties who have obtained a divorce in the Superior Court of Columbia County,

Georgia, have the right to request and receive upon the payment of a fee set by statute, copies of
all documents in their files, including the divorce decree, parenting plan, child support addendum
or any other docwnent filed in their case. State law,

a.e.G.A. 15-6-77, sets forth the fees and

charges that can be made for copies of documents and the number of pages that is part of their
decree is paid for by the party seeking those documents. If a decree is only needed for a name
change or a driver's license, social security card, or marriage license, it makes no economic

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sense to require the public to pay for a parenting plan, child support addendums and child
support worksheets for each child.

17,

That Judge Roper engages in the persistent practice of trying to micromanage the

Clerk's office by checking out original files relating to cases assigned to him and keeping them
for months at a time. He marks documents filed with his own filing stamp, but does not timely
send them to the Clerk's office for recording. This is a violation of the Open Records Act
because the Clerk as custodian of the records cannot possibly know what Judge Roper has
recorded as an official court record when he does not file the document in the Clerk's office
forthwith as required by law. See O.CO.A. 9-11-5(e) which provides:

"Filing with the court" defined The filing of pleadings and other papers with the court as
required by this chapter shall be made by filing them with the clerk of the court, except
that the judge may permit the papers to be filed with him, in which event he shall note
thereon the filing date and forthwith transmit them to the office of the clerk.
When the Clerk has to request return of records, Judge Roper becomes irritated. When he fmally
does return them they often have documents or pages of documents missing that he has removed,
altered, or misplaced. On a number of occasions the Clerk has had to recreate the record on
appeal by piecing together pages from digital files. Judge Roper has in the past checked out
files, kept these files for months, and sometimes over a year, had lawyers file additional
documents with him and has kept litigation files that are a matter of public record away from
public inspection and review. This practice is contrary to the law and make it impossible for the
press and public from seeing files that are by law subject to public inspection.
18.

This affidavit is being filed in support of her motion to recuse Judge Roper and

dismiss the Citation for Contempt. All factual allegations in that motion are incorporated by

referenced in this affidavit and adopted by reference.


This 3rd day of June 2015.

?d Subscribed before me
this ::LtJL day of June,
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2015' the prese e of:

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My Commission Expires:

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Notary Public, Columbia County, Georgia


My Commission Expires August 4, 2015

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

This is to certify that I have this date served a copy of the foregoing upon:

Alex M. Brown, Esq.


Alex M. Brown, LLC
601 N0l1h Belair Square, Suite 16
Evans, GA 30809
Brandon K. Dial, Esq.
Brandon K. Dial, LLC
561 Greene Street
Augusta, GA 30901
Sharmon Briley-Holmes, Esq.
Attorney at Law
P. O. Box 1469
Jonesboro, GA 30237

J DAVID ROPER
Judge Superior Court
735 James Brown Blvd., Suite 4204
Augusta, GA 30901
This 3rd day of June, 2015.