Former Georgia prosecutor arrested on drug charges

In both the state and federal criminal justice systems, prosecutors have a great deal of decision-making power. Prosecutors have wide discretion in determining which charges to bring, what evidence and arguments to present during a criminal trial, and whether to offer a plea agreement as well as what form that agreement might take.

Now, some individuals, including the former president of the Georgia State Bar, are calling for a review of the cases worked on by one prosecutor after the prosecutor was arrested on a number of charges including, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and Ecstasy, as well as firearms violations.

The prosecutor worked as the senior assistant district attorney between 2002 and 2006. While working for Fulton County, he was part of a group that handled cases involving larger quantity drug trafficking allegations. This generally included cases involving an ounce or more of methamphetamine or cocaine. In this role, he certainly was called on repeatedly to exercise his own discretion in determining how a criminal case involving drug charges was to be prosecuted.

There were apparently warning flags that the prosecutor was having trouble for some time. Last year he was severely beaten by one of his own clients outside his office. Then at four in the morning one day last December, the prosecutor called police to report the suicide of a woman he had been dating. The woman had used a pistol belonging to the prosecutor. Finally, last week, the prosecutor was arrested as part of an undercover sting operation.

Like any criminal suspect, this prosecutor is presumed to be innocent. But whatever it is that has been going on with him over the last few years, it certainly seems to raise some reasonable doubts about the propriety with which he may have been handling drug cases as a prosecutor.

Source: Atlanta Journal constitution, “Former drug prosecutor’s life goes wrong,” Bo Emerson and Craig Schneider, May 26, 2012