Panel to advise whether indicted prosecutor should be suspended
ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia’s governor on Wednesday appointed a review panel to determine whether a district attorney who has been indicted on charges of criminal misconduct while in office should be suspended while the case is pending.
Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order appointing two district attorneys and a retired state Supreme Court judge to consider the case against Chattahoochee District Attorney Mark Jones. a charge obtained on September 7 by the office of the state attorney general, Chris Carr, accuses Jones of trying to influence the testimony of a police officer, offer bribes to prosecutors in his office and of ” trying to influence and prevent the testimony of a victim of a crime.
Jones took office in January and his office serves Muscogee, Harris, Chattahoochee, Marion, Talbot and Taylor counties in western Georgia.
Reached by phone on Wednesday, Jones said he had not seen the executive order and must review it before commenting. He previously denied the charges in the indictment and said he had no intention of resigning, according to the Ledger-investigator to Columbus.
“I have the impression that this type of GA is coming out of the woods trying to take the people’s seat,” he told the newspaper. “I have taken an oath and will protect this seat for as long as I can.”
Georgian law requires the governor to appoint a review board to determine whether the suspension is appropriate when an elected official is charged with a felony. Usually, the panel is made up of the Attorney General and two officials who perform the same function as the indicted official. But if the attorney general files the indictment, that seat is occupied by a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired Court of Appeal judge.
To examine Jones’ case, Kemp appointed Harold Melton, who resigned as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court in July, as well as South Georgia Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joe Mulholland and Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Samir Patel.
They will be responsible for determining whether the indictment relates to and adversely affects the performance of his duties by Jones in a way that adversely affects the public. They must make a written report to the governor within 14 days with a recommendation on Jones’ suspension.
If the panel recommends the suspension, the governor can immediately suspend Jones with pay pending the final decision of his case or the end of his term, whichever comes first. If he is found guilty and the appeals fail, he will be removed from his post.
The indictment says Jones attempted to influence the testimony of a police officer during grand jury proceedings in July. Jones told the officer he should testify that a murder suspect believed the victim had deceived him to provide a motive so the suspect could be charged with murder, according to the indictment.
Jones in March offered an attorney in his office $ 1,000 to secure a murder conviction and offered another attorney in his office $ 1,000 to say a case was ready for trial while it was not there. was not, according to the indictment.
Also in March, Jones “knowingly used a threat and engaged in deceptive behavior” to influence and prevent the testimony of a crime victim and did not help the victim navigate the complexities of the system. criminal justice system and to ensure that the victim was informed of their rights under the law, the indictment says.
Jones was tried earlier this month on unrelated felony charges. He has been charged with first degree criminal damage, obstruction of government property and conspiracy in connection with a May 2020 video for his election campaign. The video featured stunt driving movements, including cars rolling around donuts with smoking tires in the parking lot of the Columbus Civic Center.
After visiting Judge Jeffery Monroe who declared the case quashed, prosecutor Brian Patterson said he decided to dismiss the charges..
Jones is also charged with impaired driving, reckless driving and injury following a November 2019 accident in which police said Jones was driving while intoxicated.