In May, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 92 that allows lawmakers to oust state prosecutors.
Following the indictment of Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants, several Trump-supporting lawmakers in Georgia are looking into ways to have sanctions placed on Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who is also being investigated for his role in the 2020 election probe, would be empowered to appoint a member of the oversight committee.
On Aug. 21, State Sen. Clint Dixon revealed that he would file a complaint against Willis in October, the month when the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission begins its proceeding.
In a social media post, Dixon said, “Once the Prosecutorial Oversight Committee is appointed in October, we can have them investigate and take action against Fani Willis and her efforts that weaponize the justice system against political opponents.”
Willis could be removed if the oversight committee if they find that any of her decisions were based on “undue bias or prejudice against the accused” or “factors that are completely unrelated to the duties of prosecution.”
When the bill was initially introduced, Willis struck back by calling the bill racist due to an increased number of minority prosecutors in the state. “I’m tired and I’m just going to call it how I see it,” Willis told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I, quite frankly, think the legislation is racist. I don’t know what other thing to call it. The state had gotten along just fine with the State Bar supervising district attorneys right up until voters put 14 minority prosecutors in office in 2020.”
The passing of the bill does appear to be politically motivated as a similar bill presented by Democrats was struck down a few years ago.
In the midst of the case involving the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, prosecutors in South Georgia failed to initially charge the White men involved in the crime. Democrats presented a bill that would have created an oversight committee to go after prosecutors who participated in misconduct. The Republicans did not support that particular bill, but they are now more than willing to support a bill that could strip Willis of her power.
Under the new law, the commission will start receiving complaints in October, though it could take months before it starts to mete out punishments. A five-member panel will investigate the complaints and decide whether to bring formal charges, and a separate three-member panel will issue orders and opinions.
DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston and a bipartisan group filed a lawsuit against the new law. Senate Bill 92 could be in violation of the First Amendment. The oversight committee can remain confidential during its investigation meaning the public or media would not have access to the information gathered by the committee. If that occurs, it could be in violation of the Open Records Act.