Georgia prosecutors are questioning a new law that would allow state oversight of their prosecution decisions

Four Georgia district attorneys filed a lawsuit this week to stop the creation of a new Disciplinary Committee with the power to remove district attorneys from public office.

Plaintiffs in the state lawsuit accuse Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republican lawmakers of dismissing the lawsuit legislation An oversight commission will be set up this year, which it says unconstitutionally undermines the discretion of local prosecutors and the voters who put them in office. On Wednesday, Georgia Republican Attorney General Chris Carr vowed to do so hold prosecutors accountable for failing to enforce certain criminal charges and for other misconduct that violates their oath of office.

DeKalb County Democratic District Attorney Sherry Boston, Augusta Democratic District Attorney Jared Williams, Towaliga Republican District Attorney Jonathan Adams, and Cobb County Democratic District Attorney Flynn Broady are seeking to block the appointment of the District Attorney’s Oversight Commission.

Under the new law, the Georgia Supreme Court would establish investigative panels to determine whether a prosecutor committed willful or biased misconduct, whether they should be punished for failing to prosecute minor crimes, or whether they have mental or physical disabilities, which prevent him from doing their job.

Public Rights Project, a non-profit civil rights organization, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the four district attorneys. The nonprofit said Georgia is part of a trend in which states are enacting laws that violate the rights of a prosecutor’s criminal justice tactics.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs allege that the Oversight Commission undermines the Georgia Constitution, which allows voters to elect district attorneys protected by law to implement their constituents’ priorities. In addition, the complaint argues that the new law restricts district attorneys’ freedom of speech under the First Amendment.

“This law poses a direct threat to any Georgian who exercises his right to vote — his right to elect the person who he believes best represents his values ​​in the courtroom,” Boston said.

Local prosecutors have differing views on the prospect of an oversight commission. Two dozen prosecutors and attorneys signed a letter in support of the oversight legislation. Georgia’s District Attorneys and District Attorneys’ Associations have warned that the panel could unfairly target prosecutors for making independent judgments about which cases to prosecute.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who presides over one Investigating Election Disturbance Former President Donald Trump and his allies called the law an overreaction. Additionally, the new law could put Athens-Clarke County District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez in the crosshairs of the oversight group for deciding not to prosecute marijuana-related crimes.

Supporters of the state-level oversight commission say it puts prosecutors in the same position as judges and police officers, who are subject to oversight groups that can oust them from their jobs.

“I have great respect for the important role that prosecutors play in protecting the citizens of Georgia,” Carr said in a social media post on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, some prosecutors have embraced the progressive movement across the country refusing to enforce the law. This is a dereliction of duty and communities in Georgia are suffering as a result.

“All Georgians deserve safety and all victims of crime deserve justice,” Carr said. “Like everyone else, prosecutors who choose to break their oath of office are not immune from responsibility and we will vigorously defend this law in court.”

Republican lawmakers in Georgia previously rejected a Democrat proposal to create a similar oversight committee after allegations that former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson gave preferential treatment to a retired sheriff’s deputy who would go on to be one of three men who were convicted of murder and hate crime for the 2020 shooting of 23-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. Carr removed Johnson from the Arbery murder investigation and a grand jury later charged her with breach of oath of office and obstruction of an investigation.

Proponents of the Oversight of Prosecutors Act have cited Johnson as an example of why district attorneys’ decisions should be scrutinized and prompt investigations should be made of complaints.