ATLANTA — A pair of Georgia Senate leaders promised to continue efforts to enact a prosecutor oversight commission after a recent decision by Georgia justices put the commission with little room to maneuver, causing lawmakers to adjust their approach to enacting the oversight body.
In November, the Georgia Supreme Court declined to decide what rules the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission could operate under, effectively putting the commission itself on hiatus due to how lawmakers created the body.
As previously reported by Channel 2 Action News, the justices said they lacked jurisdictional power to decide how the commission could proceed, due to the state’s constitutional separation of powers. Justices said that, in the legislators’ own writing, they could not decide because the legislation required judicial approval of rules for the commission to operate.
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The Georgia Supreme Court said they were unable to decide if those rules were able to be approved, saying “Because we are under no legal directive to take action, the most prudent course for us is to decline to take action without conclusively deciding any constitutional question,” the court said in its decision.
Now, Sens. Randy Roberts, (R-Cataula), and John F. Kennedy, (R-Macon), have filed new legislation to address the court’s decision about the standards.
According to a release from the two senators, they filed the bill for the coming legislative session to follow similar rules for other state commissions, with the home that the “simple remedy will allow the Commission to commence its important work.”
The PAQC was created by Senate Bill 92, which was signed into law in May 2023 by Gov. Brian Kemp.
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According to its supporters, the bill is intended to ensure accountability for what some call “rogue prosecutors.”
“We have seen theatrics take hold in Georgia over the safety and welfare of our communities as some prosecutors promise ‘reform’ and then deliver nothing but ineffectiveness and blatant disregard of the law,” Robertson, the chief sponsor of SB 92, said in a statement. “Most of the state’s prosecutors follow the law, adhere to their duties, and their communities remain safe and prosperous, and those individuals should be celebrated. On the other hand, you have a few rogue prosecutors that refuse to prosecute violent criminals, lead defunct and understaffed offices, and impose blanket policies for non-prosecution of crimes.”
Several Georgia district attorneys have sued to block the legislation and commission, including some from the metro Atlanta area, and not restricted to political party lines.
Channel 2 Action News has previously reported that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit include three Democrats and one Republican. Jonathan Adams, the Republican district attorney for Butts, Lamar and Monroe counties, opposes the legislation, saying it strips prosecutors of their discretion and independence.
“Although I may disagree with the D.A.’s decisions in other communities, I believe it’s their right to make those decisions and to represent their communities and constituents,” Adams said previously.
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