The Georgia Senate passed a bill that would create a commission with power to remove district attorneys on Day 27.
Senate Bill 92, sponsored by Senator Randy Robertson (R-Catuala), would create an oversight commission for Georgia’s district attorneys. The eight member panel could remove district attorneys and solicitor generals for a variety of issues, including refusal to prosecute certain crimes or physical or mental incapacity.
Robertson, a former law enforcement officer, said that the bill extends oversight that law enforcement already has to district attorneys and the solicitor general. He believes the bill is key for criminal justice system oversight.
“I spent over 30 years in the criminal justice system. I welcome oversight in the criminal justice system,” he said. “I welcome it. I want the individuals in the criminal justice system to be held to the same standard that I was when I was there. I want the standards to be increased. We see riots and we see people running all over the place saying the justice system isn’t fair and that people are able to do whatever they want.”
Robertson gave several examples of attorneys or solicitor generals he said should be held accountable for refusing to prosecute certain crimes or conflicts of interest.
Some Georgia district attorneys have said they will not prosecute misdemeanor marijuana possession charges or illegal abortions.
Former prosecutor Sen. Harold Jones II (D-Augusta), opposed the SB 92. He said it did little to actually aid the criminal justice system and raised concerns over the commission being potentially discriminatory.
“You cannot suspend someone for a disability,” Jones II said. “Of course, their disability will interfere with their job, if that’s what you’re talking about, if you do not give them reasonable accommodation. What’s going to happen is the commission is going to have to fix this, because right now it is not legal. And when they do that, everything you thought you created is going to be narrowed down into nothingness,” he said.
Jones added that he thought the commission was a “bureaucratic nightmare” and that the Senate should pass laws to curb suspected ethics problems among district attorneys instead.
Both Republicans and Democrats accused the other side of making public safety a partisan issue.
SB 92 passed 32 to 24 in a mostly party-line vote. It now moves to the House.
This story comes to The Current GA through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.