Lawyers for Republican Sheriff Al St. Lawrence and Democratic challenger McArthur Holmes, one of his former deputies, both accused the other of using the court for political tactics.
St. Lawrence didn't attend the hearing which prompted the judge to dismiss the whole lawsuit.
"I'm frustrated because this is not right," said DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker, who was hearing the case because all Chatham judges bowed out to avoid any conflict of interest.
She said there would be no way to have a fair and thorough hearing about the behavior of the candidates with one of them absent.
"I'm not going to be used to force one candidate to be in DeKalb County when he needs to be knocking on doors in Chatham County," she said.
She offered to let Holmes leave to return to the campaign trail and granted a five-minute recess for him to consider it.
Immediately after the recess, though, Becker announced she was tossing out the whole case.
"I'm dismissing the case. Go back to Savannah and do what you need to do," she said.
St. Lawrence had sued Holmes for campaign materials featuring photos of the challenger in uniform and other symbols of the office. Becker didn't rule on the matter but instead forced the candidates into a settlement Oct. 24 in which they agreed not to refer to the other for the rest of the campaign or to even discuss the details of the agreement.
Holmes then filed a motion Thursday accusing St. Lawrence of violating the settlement because he told a television reporter he was pleased with the agreement. Another alleged violation was a St. Lawrence campaign flyer with a photo of Holmes and the headline "Say no to Holmes."
The sheriff's attorney, Steven Scheer, argued in his written response that Holmes had offered no proof that the flyer in question was distributed after the agreement.
In court, told the judge that St. Lawrence was involved with official duties and that he didn't think his client needed to attend Friday, especially since he had only gotten notice of the hearing at the end of the work day Thursday.
Becker, clearly miffed with each side, offered some parting advice to both camps before ending the hearing.
"You might need to just apply some common sense," she said. "Now, go home to Savannah and have a nice day."
After the hearing, Scheer blasted Holmes for trying to hold St. Lawrence in contempt of court for violating the settlement.
"This is an attempt to use the court system for political purposes," the lawyer said.
Holmes' attorney, Sage Brown, said St. Lawrence showed his lack of respect for laws by failing to appear which he called a violation of a court order.
Holmes himself said he was pleased with the turn of events.
"It does change my plans," he said. "It allows me to go back in my usual campaign mode and use my uniform."
When asked if he wasn't also flaunting the law by using his uniform when a state law prohibits it, Brown and his other lawyer, Will Claiborne, answered instead. They argued that St. Lawrence's failure to show up was the real issue.
After both offered several points, Holmes produced a copy of a campaign flyer with him in a brown uniform.
"You can't tell from looking at it that that is a Chatham County uniform," he said. "You can't tell what county that is."
Then he added, "We only had four uniforms like that made."