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Justice cancels visit to Conyers

CONYERS - Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham has canceled a Saturday visit to Conyers to swear in new officers with the Rockdale Democratic Party.

The decision came following a letter from State Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, who wrote to Benham to express his concern that the visit was inappropriate, given that justices run in nonpartisan elections.

Douglas said he received a phone call from Benham Wednesday afternoon, and the justice agreed to cancel his visit.

"I think it's clearly the best course of action for him, that he stay above the political battles," Douglas said. "He told me on the phone that he did not realize it was a swearing-in for a political party and had he known that, he would have declined from the beginning."

Benham was to swear-in the party's new chairwoman, Ruth Wilson, along with several other new officers.

Democratic Party officials could not be reached for comment.

Benham was out of town and could not be reached for comment, according to a spokeswoman for the court.

"I just think we have to be careful about who we involve in politics at the local level, and I think this is a lesson for all of us," Douglas said.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.