In an effort to create some accountability and oversight for district attorneys, similar to that experienced by Judges and law enforcement officers, S.B. 92 was passed to create the Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission.
Under the new law, the Georgia Supreme Court is empowered to appoint investigative panels to decide whether a prosecutor has committed willful or prejudicial misconduct, should be punished for not prosecuting low-level offenses or is found to have mental or physical disabilities that impeded their ability to do their job.
Although there are plenty of district attorneys and solicitors signed a letter supporting the legislation, there are some who are concerned about behind held accountable for their conduct after being elected by the voters. Several local district attorneys, not including Ms. Gonzalez in Athens, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Fulton County in an effort to challenge enforcement of the Oversight Commission.
The Plaintiffs’ Motion for Interlocutory Injunction was filed on August 24, 2023. The Defendants filed their opposition to the motion several weeks later. A hearing was held on September 18, 2023 and the injunction was denied just days before the Oversight Commission was authorized to start investigating complaints. As a result, district attorneys and solicitors can now be subject to discipline for the following:
(1) Mental or physical incapacity interfering with the performance of his or her duties which is, or is likely to become, permanent;
(2) Willful misconduct in office;
(3) With respect to district attorneys, willful and persistent failure to carry out duties pursuant to Code Section 15-18-6;
(4) With respect to solicitors-general, willful and persistent failure to carry out duties pursuant to Code Section 15-18-66;
(5) Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude;
(6) Conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the office into disrepute; or
(7) Knowingly authorizing or permitting an assistant district attorney or assistant solicitor-general to commit any act constituting grounds for removal under paragraphs (1) through (6) of this subsection.
With the opportunity to be held accountable, is the District Attorney’s Office in the Western Judicial Circuit going to to change some of their procedures to comply with their obligation to prosecute crime?