Georgia governor suspends indicted district attorney
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s governor has suspended a district attorney who was indicted on charges of criminal misconduct while in office.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Monday suspending Chattahoochee Circuit District Attorney Mark Jones until his case is resolved or the end of his term of office, whichever comes first.
The state attorney general’s office obtained the indictment on Sept. 7, accusing Jones of trying to influence a police officer’s testimony, offering bribes to prosecutors in his office and trying to influence and prevent the testimony of a crime victim.
Jones could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday, but he has previously denied the charges.
He took office in January, overseeing the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, which serves Muscogee, Harris, Chattahoochee, Marion, Talbot and Taylor counties in west Georgia.
Under Georgia law, the governor must appoint a review commission to determine whether suspension is appropriate when an elected official is indicted on a felony charge. Kemp last month appointed a panel made up of Harold Melton, who stepped down as Georgia Supreme Court chief justice in July, as well as South Georgia Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joe Mulholland and Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Samir Patel.
The panel found that the indictment relates to and adversely affects Jones’ performance of his duties in a way that negatively affects the public, according to Kemp’s order. His suspension was effective immediately, but he’ll continue to draw his salary for now. If he’s convicted and any appeals fail, he’ll be removed from office.
The indictment charges Jones with two counts of violation of oath by a public officer, two counts of attempted violation of oath by a public officer, two counts of bribery, two counts of influencing witnesses and one count of attempted subornation of perjury. All nine counts are felony charges.
Jones was tried last month on unrelated felony charges. He was charged with first-degree criminal damage, interfering with government property and conspiracy in connection with a May 2020 video for his election campaign. The video included stunt driving moves, including cars driving in doughnuts with smoking tires in the parking lot of the Columbus Civic Center.
After the judge declared a mistrial in that case, the prosecutor said he had decided to dismiss the charges but he had not yet done so by Monday, according to the Ledger-Enquirer newspaper.
Jones is also charged in another unrelated case with DUI, reckless driving and causing injury following a November 2019 crash in which police said Jones was driving drunk. That case remains pending.