Williams said he wanted to avoid a disaster

A former circuit judge who chose Oconee County as his home in retirement says he was only trying to avoid what he foresaw as a potential disaster when he challenged the eligibility to run of one of the four men who competed last year for county sheriff. Jimmy Williams found himself the first criminal trial witness not only because of the civil court challenge he mounted against James Bartee, but his position as the victim of an alleged plot to kidnap him. Williams this morning said he became aware that he was the object of the plot when he got a phone call from the head of the state police the morning of May 30, 2012. That’s the day in which Bartee was arrested. And a few days later Bartee gave up his campaign for office. Bartee lawyer Brannon, however, told the jury that, according to the polls, Bartee would have won the Republican primary election, with 80 to 90% of the vote. “That’s what the polls said,” said Brannon in his opening remarks to the jury. Williams, as the trial’s first witness, also said he felt Bartee had a good chance to win and that’s what gave him great concern. For Williams explained that, as a student of the law, he believed Bartee’s failure to satisfy the eligibility requirements to run for office would have amounted to a disaster had he won. If Bartee had won, Williams predicted the new sheriff would have unable to legally deputize any of his officers. However, Williams admitted, Bartee had told him that he was “over qualified.”