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The Putnam County, Ga., Board of Commissioners fired County Attorney Dorothy J. Adams on May 4, claiming that she had conflicts of interest with the county. But the commissioners won’t say what they believe constituted those conflicts of interest. Now Adams and her husband and law partner, Francis N. “Frank” Ford, say they intend to sue the commission for defamation if it doesn’t retract the statements. “I didn’t know who [Adams and Ford] were representing,” says Putnam County Commissioner Sylbie Yon. The partners also represented the sheriff, tax commissioner, probate judge and clerk of court. Yon, who voted to fire Adams and her husband, says her four fellow commissioners “weren’t real sure where the allegiance was.” Yon says she “didn’t really feel confident” speaking her mind in the board’s meetings with Adams. “It was like they [Adams and Ford] were trying to impose their views on the board.” She declined to be more specific but added that she did not intend to impugn the pair’s competence. Litigation against the United Nation of Nuwaubian Moors constituted a large part of Adams’ and Ford’s work for the county commission. The Nuwaubian religious community is comprised of about 200 people, mostly African-Americans, who say they are a sovereign nation. Adams and Ford started pursuing zoning ordinance litigation against the Nuwaubians in 1998 when the sect built a nightclub that the county claimed violated zoning laws. Putnam County appointed Adams as its attorney in January 1997. After she and Ford formed a law partnership in 1998, she says, the county also permitted Ford to handle its day-to-day legal matters. Adams and Ford operate from an office in Eatonton, Ga. When she was reappointed as county attorney in January, Adams says, the board announced that it would “use all the accoutrements of my law firm” as well, she says. Ford, who helped Adams with the litigation side of her legal work for Putnam, says the county has won all of its 19 closed cases since Adams was appointed in 1997. The county has been the plaintiff in only three cases, Ford says. Putnam County Commission Chairman Steve Layson says the county paid Adams a retainer of $1,000 per month in addition to fees of $100 per hour. Though the county fired Adams, it requested that she continue representing Putnam in its litigation against the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors according to The Macon Telegraph. Adams declined. “Every time they [the Nuwaubians] didn’t get something they wanted, they would sue us,” Adams says. Adams says a Nuwaubian slashed her tires and that the windows of her law office have been smashed. The Putnam sheriff says someone left the carcass of a mutilated dog in Adams’ driveway. The group recently distributed literature thanking the county commission for firing Adams and Ford. On May 9, the commission appointed Kenneth G. Jackson of Monticello as interim county attorney. Jackson is a Jasper County, Ga., magistrate judge and serves as part-time juvenile prosecutor for the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit. Jackson could not be reached for comment. Briefly … Volunteer jurors are needed for Emory University School of Law’s Trial Techniques program. Jurors will attend mock trials on Friday or Saturday. All rising third-year students at Emory must complete the program. About 600 jurors are needed for the program, says Molly O’Brien, director of the Trial Techniques program. For more information, contact Janeen Jones at (404) 727-6814.

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