Carolyn Palmer will take the oath of office Friday as McIntosh County clerk of court, replacing embattled former clerk Rebecca McFerrin who resigned effective midnight Monday.
County Attorney Adam S. Poppell III said Palmer will be sworn in to complete the remainder of McFerrin’s term of office which will end Dec. 31, 2020.
Palmer, who was chief deputy clerk, has been running the office in an interim basis since Gov. Brian Kemp suspended McFerrin for 60 days in late March. The suspension came after a three-member panel investigated McFerrin and issued a report alleging misconduct.
“[Tuesday] was the official day I became clerk,’’ Palmer said Wednesday.
Probate Judge Harold Palmer said he would swear in Palmer as soon as he received an email from the Georgia secretary of state with an official oath and documents that Palmer had to sign. Because Palmer already had taken an oath as a deputy clerk, any actions she undertook were official, he said.
“We’re covered,’’ Webster said.
Under Georgia law, the chief deputy automatically assumes the office of clerk in the event of a resignation, he said.
Palmer has a lot of experience in the office having come to work there Sept. 13, 2004.
McFerrin’s decision to resign in June headed off a jury trial on a petition to remove her from office that Atlantic Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden filed. Durden dismissed the petition a few days after McFerrin resigned in early June.
During Palmer’s interim service, Kemp appointed Long County Clerk of Court Sherry Long to oversee the office.
Long said it did not require a lot of work.
“We just went over a few times. There were some things that needed to be tweaked a little bit, nothing major,’’ Long said.
She said that Palmer “was pretty up to snuff” on the duties of the office.
“I think she’ll do a fantastic job for McIntosh County,’’ Long said.
The investigation of McFerrin came at the request of Superior Court Judge Robert Russell and State Court Judge C. Jean Bolin. Russell and Bolin wrote a letter to the governor asserting that defendants were sitting in the county jail without bond because McFerrin was not entering Sheriff’s Office arrest records into the clerk of court database. In one case, McFerrin was accused to delaying a bond hearing for a woman jailed on traffic and drug charges who needed medical attention. The investigative report said that a member of the sick woman’s family called the clerk’s office frequently seeking to get her released, which angered McFerrin.
She was also accused of deleting from the court database a Georgia State Patrol citation accusing her husband James Glenn McFerrin of speeding at 101 mph and driving too fast for conditions.
The report also said, among other things, that there were no records of some court hearings and that McFerrin dismissed so many people from jury duty there were sometimes too few left to pick juries and that trials were delayed as a result.