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Two pieces of legislation introduced this week would ensure that district attorneys and solicitors general in Georgia are held responsible for “misconduct in office” and create a new level of oversight. Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) and Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas) filed two separate bills related to this issue.

Under House Bill 229, Georgia law would include “that part of the duties of a district attorney and a solicitor general is to review every individual case if probable cause for prosecution exists, as well as make a prosecutorial decision available based on the facts and circumstances of each individual case under oath of duty.”

This legislation also outlines that failing to do so would make a prosecutor subject to recall – adding to the existing criteria that make a public official eligible for recall. The legislation also lowers the threshold of signatures to recall a prosecutor. This bill was authored by Rep. Gaines and sponsored by Rep. Gullett.

“If a prosecutor is not doing his or her job, we need a system in state law to remove that individual from office,” said Gaines. “Communities across our state cannot afford to wait; voters deserve a remedy that will allow them to protect their counties, cities and neighborhoods.

“This bill would ensure that if prosecutors choose to ignore the laws of this state, they will be subject to a recall, and it will be up to the people to decide if that individual deserves to stay in office. It is past time we take on rogue prosecutors in Georgia who are putting lives in danger every single day,” Gaines added.

A second bill – House Bill 231- would create the Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission. This bill was authored by Rep. Gullett and sponsored by Rep. Gaines and is designed to provide permanent oversight of prosecutors accused of wrongdoing through a panel that holds jurisdiction like the Judicial Qualifications Committee does with judges.

“Voters across the state are begging legislators to address corrupt prosecutors,” said Gullett. “While most district attorneys and solicitor generals are hard-working public servants seeking justice for victims, others have sullied and called into question the integrity of our criminal justice system through their unethical behavior. Since I first began working on prosecutor oversight legislation, Georgia has had more than half a dozen prosecutors accused of serious unethical and corrupt behavior. This includes lying, cheating, stealing and flat out refusing to enforce the law. This behavior affects rural and urban communities with prosecutors on both sides of the political aisle.”

HB 231 is similar to language previously passed in the House during the past two legislative sessions. Under this bill, prosecutors who display willful misconduct in office, persistently fail to perform the duties of their office, are personally convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or who display conduct that brings the office in disrepute would be subject to review by the commission, including possible removal from office. The commission would be appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House and Senate Committee on Assignments.

“This legislation would solidify a prosecutor’s duty to exercise discretion on an individual case basis after reviewing the facts of each case,” said Rep. Gullett. “District attorneys and solicitors general are entrusted with the responsibility to enforce the law and play a pivotal role in seeking justice. We must hold them accountable for their actions to ensure the integrity of our criminal justice system.”


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