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County attorney resigns in lieu of firing

Karen Thomas

Karen Thomas

LAWRENCEVILLE — Long-time Gwinnett County Attorney Karen Thomas has resigned in lieu of termination, documents show.

The county issued a statement Wednesday that Thomas, who has led its law department since 1998, had resigned effective Friday, May 13. The statement did include the fact that Thomas had submitted her resignation in February, agreeing to stay on through mid-May to “help facilitate a smooth transition.”

It did not, however, detail any reason for her departure. Thomas’ letter of resignation to County Administrator Glenn Stephens, obtained Wednesday by the Daily Post, did.

“You have advised me that the Board of Commissioners has expressed their desire to make changes regarding my holding the position of County Attorney,” Thomas wrote in the letter dated Feb. 18.

“Accordingly ... I wish to exercise my option to resign in lieu of termination and receive all the severance provisions and post-employment benefits included (in her employment agreement).”

Thomas, formerly the only minority department head in the Gwinnett County government, graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1986.

Thomas’ resignation was tendered almost a month before current Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash was elected to complete the unfinished term of beleaguered former chair Charles Bannister.

Exactly how much her severance pay would be was unclear Wednesday.

“While we’re grateful for the service Karen provided,” Stephens said in a statement, “the Board of Commissioners is looking for a new direction in leadership for the law department.”