Heard trial heads into second day

Lorenzo Heard at a press conference in August. / File

Tuesday morning was the second day of testimony in the Lorenzo Heard suit against the Dougherty County Board of Elections.

The morning began with Cathy Crowdis being called by Lorenzo Heard's attorney Henry William and being asked to go over her job specifications. She responded that she is a part-time seasonal worker that comes in on in a needs basis for the board of elections. She explained her process of going through petitions and verifying them. Crowdis showed the court how she went through the petitions and how they were monitored for accuracy. If there questions or issue with them, she said that it would be discussed in the office.During this time, Williams mentioned that over 800 absentee ballots were sent out missing Heard's name.

Dougherty County Board of Elections attorney Ed Collier asked to cross examine Crowdis when Williams objected. The judge ruled that Collier would be able to cross examine Crowdis. Collier asked her to identify petitions without affidavits attached to them and affidavits without signatures. She was also shown petitions that looked at possibly photocopied signatures and notary stamps.

Noel Buttner was called up and she was asked by Heard's lawyer Maurice King about the process of verifying signatures. She walked him through the verification of signatures and the events from start to finish beginning with the phone call made to come in and perform the duties. He asked about her education and background training on signature training verification. She she had not been trained to read signatures but it was not difficult to compare them to voter registration card signatures. King asked about the counting process and how can board of elections officials be sure they correctly verified signatures without training. She responded they did the best job the office could do fairly and accurately.

Roberta Jones was then called up and walked King through the signature verification process and how it was handled. She responded that they consulted each other for help when needed during verification. She was asked what she was instructed to do and instructions received. Her response was that Nickerson told her what to do. She said that during verification, she would take petitions out of bucket they were delievered in, look for a notarized affidavit and signature, then read out the name to Teqita Honer, who was on a laptop and would verify if the person was registered voter. If registered, the person's voter registration card would be looked up then compared for accuracy of signatures. She was asked for dates when stopped and she could not recall.

Collier's first motion upon taking the floor was to dismiss the case. Both attorney's argued and the judge decided against dismissal so that he could hear both full arguments before making a decision.

Collier's first witness was Clinton Johnson. He asked Johnson to recall the events of August 3rd when he brought the notice of candidacy in. Johnson responded he was emailed the documents from Heard, saying he signed, scanned and emailed them from out of town. Heard then gave him permission to go over the signature with a pen and get it notarized. Johnson's secretary then notarized it. When he took it to the office, Ambrose asked if it was an original signature and stamp, he said yes. He claims Nickerson walked up and shook her no that it was not original.

Johnson was then asked why he began petitioning for signatures and he said he did it on his own time and idea. He was asked if it was a moment of people and he answered that he don't know. Maurice King then took over examination and asked Clinton if Nickerson or Ambrose told him he could fill out the documents that day at the office if they weren't an original and he said no.

Ginger Nickerson then took the stand. Nickerson claims she did not see the paperwork or analyze it and only saw Johnson put it back in his pocket. Nickerson stated an original document is characterized by a wet signature and wet stamp.

The lawyers and judge then discussed how they would procede with the case. The lawyers were ordered to submit to the judge their arguements in written format and how they should procede. They have until October 19th to get these documents before the judge. Heard will remain a write in candidate in the mean time -- if the court rules in his favor, the election can be postponed.