A Tift County judge won't rule until at least Dec. 6 on whether congressional candidate Austin Scott's divorce records will be unsealed.
After hearing arguments on both sides, the judge ruled this morning that Scott and his ex-wife, Annette Jordan, hadn't had 30 days to respond to the suit brought by a Democratic activist.
Their lawyers told the judge that Scott and his ex-wife were served with court papers on Oct. 12 and 15.
Judge Bill Reinhardt said he was aware of "the elephant in the room" -- the Nov. 2 election for the 8th Congressional District seat -- but said the law is the law.
Macon attorney Carmel Sanders filed the motion to make the records public on behalf of her client, Amy Morton. She argues that Scott, a Republican state representative, got special treatment when the divorce records were sealed in 2004. They also say no hearing was held on whether to seal the records, as required by law.
Scott's lawyer, told Reinhardt that he would appeal the case if the judge ordered the records opened. That could delay the records' release even further.
In a debate two weeks ago, Scott said his opponent Democratic incumbent Jim Marshall was behind the request to unseal the records.
Marshall said he was not, but added that they should be made public. Marshall's campaign reiterated that position in a statement released Tuesday after the Judge Reinhardt postponed the hearing.
"Georgia law requires that public records be open to public inspection even if they include damaging information like the rumors circulated by Republicans about Scott's divorce records. Since these divorce records will eventually be opened, Jim's thought all along that Scott simply open them if they disprove the rumors," the statement reads.
On Monday, lawyers in the case filed a motion on behalf of Scott's 11-year-old son asking to have a say in the decision.
At a Republican event in Warner Robins Tuesday before the judge's ruling, Scott declined to comment on his son's involvement.
But he again claimed Marshall is behind the court case: "That's just dirty politics from Jim Marshall. Desperate people do desperate things. He's a desperate man right now, trying to save his paycheck."
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