The Georgia Bar Affiliation dismisses lawsuits towards attorneys concerned within the investigation into Ahmaud Arbery’s dying

Georgia State Representatives Sandra Scott, Viola Davis and two other lawmakers filed complaints against attorneys Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill with the Georgia Bar Association in January after handling the death investigation of Ahmaud Arbery.

A complaint says Johnson and Barnhill broke their public oaths and showed favor to the men now convicted of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder.

Another complaint was against attorney Kevin Gough, who represented William Bryan at the state trial.

Georgia state officials want Johnson and Barnhill’s licenses revoked and tested for conflicts of interest and discrimination.


The Georgia Attorney’s Office dismissed her complaints.

“I was very hurt.” Arbery’s aunt, Diane Jackson, says her family was skeptical of the attorneys. “My family was very hurt that we had people like that in the system and all the evidence of how they did it to him was there.”

Last year, Jackie Johnson was charged with violating her oath of office and obstructing a police officer.

In the complaint, lawmakers say Johnson and Barnhill have shown favor to the men who have now been convicted in state and federal courts.

“She has extended the investigation,” Georgia Representative Sandra Scott said. “In fact, I don’t think she would have started investigating until the video surfaced.”


Rep. Scott said the convictions should have mattered, but also that their actions early in the case should be enough.

“They said we didn’t have enough evidence to show that she actually broke the law,” Rep. Scott said. “And without any reasonable doubt that she violated professional standards. And we believe that’s not true.”

The State Bar of Georgia sent this statement to News4JAX:

The State Bar of Georgia is a branch of the Georgia Supreme Court and our Attorney Code is enacted by the court. The Rules authorize us to disclose information about a complaint in very limited circumstances. Bar Rule 4-221.1(j) states that “Members of the Office of the General Counsel and the State Disciplinary Committee may respond to specific inquiries about matters made public by the complainant, defendant or third party but are otherwise confidential Rules by complying with the Acknowledge the existence and status of the proceeding.” Under this rule, we can acknowledge that the Bar Association received the complaints referred to by the legislature and that the complaints were dismissed. We cannot comment any further.


Jackson said the prosecutor’s failure to take action is a sign the state still has a long way to go. “Because if you’ve seen the evidence what it was about, it was racist, but you say you’re going to throw it out, I’m very upset.”

She says her family knows what she has to do and that getting full justice for Ahmaud means holding those lawyers accountable.

Representative Viola Davis filed a complaint against William Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, demanding that he be censored after he made comments about black pastors in the courtroom during the state trial.

The prosecutor’s office also dismissed this lawsuit.


Representatives say they will re-evaluate the complaint because they believe there is enough evidence.

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