Judge denies injunction against Georgia’s ‘rogue DA’ council

Judge Paige Reese Whitaker’s ruling means the council can begin reviewing complaints against locally elected district attorneys.
The Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission can investigate, discipline, and remove elected prosecutors from office.
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 1:23 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2023 at 3:13 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A Fulton County Superior Court judge denied a temporary injunction against Georgia’s new Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Council (PACQ).

Judge Paige Reese Whitaker’s ruling means the council can begin reviewing complaints against locally elected district attorneys (DAs) throughout Georgia for discipline or even removal.

Opponents of the newly created commission designed to oversee so-called “rogue” district attorneys were hoping to block its work before it officially went into operation on October 1.

The council’s creation was authorized in the last Georgia General Assembly session and later signed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

“We disagree with today’s decision, and we knew there would be hurdles to overcome in protecting the will of Georgia voters,” said Josh Rosenthal from the Public Rights Project, which represented the DAs. “This ruling limits the ability of elected district attorneys to promote justice and create safer communities. We will continue our litigation against this anti-democratic commission and remain confident [the law] will be ruled unconstitutional.”

Senate Bill 92, which created the PACQ, went into effect in July and gives the commission the power to investigate, discipline, and remove elected prosecutors from office beginning next month.

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston; Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady; Towaliga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jonathan Adams; and Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jared Williams partnered with the Public Rights Project to file a lawsuit, challenging the new law as unconstitutional.

“While we are disappointed that our motion was denied, this is just the beginning of what we expect will be a long legal battle,” Boston said. “We look forward to presenting our full arguments against this dangerous and undemocratic law. We intend to continue our fight for prosecutorial independence and the voters who elected us all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court.”

The lawsuit claimed the bill violates the need for separation of power from the legislative and judicial branches, nondelegation, fair notice, and freedom of speech protections.

The injunction motion, filed August 24, sought to prevent the PACQ panel from taking steps to investigate any district attorneys or solicitors-general until the lawsuit can make its way through the legal process.

After he signed the bill, Kemp said, “Georgians in every community deserve to be safe. Brave men and women in uniform are doing their part. District attorneys and prosecutors need to do theirs.”

“All Georgians deserve to be safe, and it’s a district attorney’s duty to enforce the law,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. “When elected prosecutors fail to do so, crime goes up and victims are denied justice. This decision from the Court reaffirms that District Attorneys who choose to violate their oaths will not be immune from accountability.”

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