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CAPLAN v. HATTAWAY et al.
S98A0784.
CARLEY, Justice.
Election contest. Baldwin Superior Court. Before Judge Mullis from Oconee Circuit.
Article 13 of the Georgia Election Code, OCGA 21-2-520 et seq., sets forth the mechanisms for expediting an election contest in the trial and appellate courts. Payne v. Chatman, 267 Ga. 873, 875 (485 SE2d 723) (1997). In accordance therewith, an appeal becomes moot if the contested election has been held and the "appellant ignored the procedures set forth in OCGA 21-2-528 and this Court's practice of granting expedited consideration of election cases. . . ." Payne v. Chatman, supra at 877. Here, the written order denying injunctive relief was not entered until December 3, 1997 and, thus, Ms. Caplan could not have filed her notice of appeal until some time after the run-off election was held. However, OCGA 21-2-527 provides for the trial court's "pronouncement of judgment" in election contest cases and OCGA 21-2-528 further provides that the appellant may apply for a stay or supersedeas "without regard to whether any notice of appeal has been filed or the record docketed in such cases." "Pronouncement" means "orally announced." State v. Germany, 246 Ga. 455 (1) (271 SE2d 851) (1980). Thus, the Election Code authorized Ms. Caplan to seek a stay or supersedeas of the trial court's oral pronouncement before the run-off election was held. Moreover, she was aware of the substance of the trial court's ruling and could have submitted her own written order for immediate entry by the trial court. Ms. Caplan pursued neither option to prevent her appeal from becoming moot. In this case, there is no issue as to the constitutionality of any statute. Moreover, even if any of the errors enumerated by Ms. Caplan is capable of repetition in another case, that error certainly would be reviewable, if repeated, upon proper invocation of the applicable provisions of the Election Code. See Payne v. Chatman, supra at 876-877; Chastain v. Baker, 255 Ga. 432, 434 (339 SE2d 241) (1986).
There are many important policy considerations which underlie "the rule that litigants should make every effort to dispose of election disputes with dispatch and that the courts should not interfere with the orderly process of elections after the general election has been held." Payne v. Chatman, supra at 877. Mr. Grant has been serving as the Mayor for several months, and the delay in consideration of this appeal is attributable to Ms. Caplan's failure to avail herself of the applicable procedures of the Election Code. Under these circumstances, we conclude that Ms. Caplan's appeal must be dismissed as moot.
Adams & Jordan, Donald J. Jordan, Cedric B. Davis, Shane M. Geeter, Charles A. Mathis, Jr., for appellees.
Eugene C. Black, Jr., for appellant.
DECIDED JUNE 1, 1998 -- RECONSIDERATION DENIED JULY 7, 1998.
Thursday May 21 03:18 EDT


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