Prosecutor removal bill signed into law by the governor of Georgia

Georgia will set up a commission with the power to fire prosecutors who refuse to carry out certain crimes. That’s according to legislation signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday.

The law was passed in the Georgia House and Senate on a partisan vote. Democrats and other critics said the measure aims to strip power from locally elected officials who make criminal decisions that reflect their community, such as B. district attorneys refusing to prosecute marijuana crimes, pledges not to enforce abortion restrictions, and investigations into whether former President Donald Trump interfered in the 2020 state election.

Republicans say the law will improve public safety and put a stop to rogue prosecutors. Previous proposed legislation targeting Georgia’s district attorneys failed, but proponents said changes made in this year’s bill would increase scrutiny over the position. They cite the need for this action with district attorneys deciding which laws to prosecute and recent cases in which prosecutors have been indicted on criminal charges.

The law represents the latest escalation in tensions between local district attorneys and Republican-led state legislatures across the country, with Republican officials aiming to rein in progressively-leaning prosecutors who say they are backing away from prosecuting crimes like personal cannabis possession , low level shoplifting or abortion restrictions.

In Florida, a prosecutor suspended for refusing to enforce anti-abortion laws has asked a federal appeals court to reinstate a lawsuit alleging Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) violated the First Amendment rights of the Democratic prosecutor-elect.

Georgia’s new law (SB 92) establishes an eight-member Board of Supervisors with “the power to discipline, discharge and involuntarily retire any appointed or elected district attorney or attorney general.”

It also adds an explicit mandate for district attorneys to “review each individual case for which there is a probable cause for prosecution and make a prosecutor’s decision under the law based on the facts and circumstances of each individual case, under oath of duty.” place.”

It lists as grounds for removing a prosecutor mental or physical incapacity, “willful misconduct in office,” “willful and persistent failure” in the discharge of his or her duties, conviction for a crime of “moral depravity,” and “conduct detrimental to the discharge of office.” is” listed justice that brings the office into disrepute.”

Any district attorney or attorney general fired by the commission is barred from appointment or election to any similar office anywhere in Georgia for ten years. A prosecutor could appeal a Commission disciplinary decision to Georgia’s Courts of Appeal.

The Commission will start receiving complaints from October 1st.

The members of the commission will be lawyers appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and legislative leaders of Georgia. Five members will form an investigative panel and three will form a hearing panel responsible for issuing disciplinary orders.