A Fulton County Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms into mediation over their legal dispute about how to best respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
Judge Jane Barwick’s order came hours after Bottoms disclosed she and Kemp discussed a possible settlement to avoid a contentious court battle over his lawsuit challenging the city’s mask mandate and other restrictions.
It was a notable de-escalation of a recent war of words between the two politicians, who have assailed each other over the past two weeks as their public relationship, functional if not warm, steadily disintegrated into bitter fighting over how to handle the pandemic and public safety.
A compromise is far from certain, and it will be a scramble for both sides since Barwick still plans to hold a 10 a.m. hearing Tuesday to weigh the merits of the case. Senior Judge Cynthia Wright, a veteran Fulton jurist, was tapped as the mediator.
Bottoms first revealed during a taping of “The Tonight Show” that she and Kemp talked Wednesday about a way to “agree to disagree” without a courtroom showdown.