Two Georgia Senate Republican leaders pre-filed legislation Tuesday to bypass a court ruling late last year that blocked implementation of a new oversight board for local prosecutors lawmakers created last year. The bill would allow the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission to set its own regulations.
Senate Bill 92, which the General Assembly’s Republican majorities passed mostly along party lines, tasked the Georgia Supreme Court with reviewing the new commission’s standards of conduct. But the justices ruled in November that the high court lacks the authority to conduct such a review, effectively blocking the bill from taking effect.
The legislature created the oversight commission to investigate complaints lodged against local prosecutors and potentially discipline or remove the target of a complaint on a variety of grounds including mental or physical incapacity, willful misconduct or failure to perform the duties of the office, conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, or conduct that brings the office into disrepute.
Republicans pushed the measure as a way to sanction prosecutors in Georgia cities led by Democrats who they said were reluctant to prosecute certain crimes, notably during the summer of civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis by a white police officer in 2020.
“Most of the state’s prosecutors follow the law, adhere to their duties, and their communities remain safe and prosperous,” said Senate Majority Whip Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, the new bill’s chief sponsor. “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.”
Dave Williams is the bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service