Judge Tain Kell serves on the board of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber Vice President Brooks Mathis helped lead the group’s efforts to draw the baseball franchise to Cobb.
“In order to preserve the appearance of propriety and out of an abundance of caution,” Kell wrote, “I am making you aware of this possible conflict which may exist.”
The letter requests the attorneys of parties involved with the case respond with any “concerns or reservations” they may have regarding his handling of the case within one week of its issuance.
District Attorney Vic Reynolds said he believed Kell had written the letter in order to gauge everyone’s level of concern before he made a decision as to whether he would preside over the hearing.
“His honor is doing, in my opinion, exactly what he should do as a Superior Court judge,” Reynolds said.
The district attorney’s office will not take any opposition to Kell’s continued involvement, Reynolds said, adding the other lawyers copied on the letter could still voice concern before the week is up.
If one of the involved parties felt uncomfortable with a chamber leader overseeing the process to approve the bonds, Kell could still decide to proceed anyway.
Reynolds said Kell had likely issued the letter not only to avoid impropriety, but to avoid an appearance of impropriety.
The bond hearing is scheduled for July 7.
As Reynolds explained, the process by which bonds are validated in the state of Georgia involves a required lawsuit.
“The Legislature has decided there has to be a party to file suit against the entity seeking the bond validation, and that process allows anyone with any interest in the subject to weigh in,” Reynolds said.
The public will have an opportunity to file documents in the suit before it is decided, at which point Reynolds said the DA’s office will no longer be involved in the process.
Reynolds said the state likely wrote this law in order to keep the bond process uniform among all court circuits in Georgia.
Kevin Moore, of Moore Ingram Johnson and Steele, is representing the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority, the agency that will issue the bonds to finance the stadium’s construction.
Under the Georgia law, Reynolds is bringing suit against the Exhibit Hall Authority on behalf of the state.
Natalie Bloodworth, Kell’s administrative assistant, said no new judge was in place to take over if Kell stepped aside because his recusal has not yet occurred.