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Georgia lawmakers to tackle prosecutorial conduct in upcoming session

By T.A. DeFeo
The Center Square

Georgia lawmakers are unlikely to convene for a special session this year to weigh whether to act on the district attorney prosecuting former President Donald Trump, but legislators are all but guaranteed to address the topic in January.

State Sen. Colton Moore, R-Trenton, sent a letter to Georgia Gov, Brian Kemp, a Republican, calling for a special session to review Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. At the behest of Willis, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Trump and 18 others on charges they attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

However, the call for a special session has sparked backlash from some Republicans, who note they do not have a three-fifths majority in the state House and the state Senate — a requirement to call a special session. However, in an interview with The Center Square, state Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, outlined three approaches state lawmakers can take.

"We can hold hearings through the Government Oversight Committee on the Senate side, confer subpoena power to that committee once we get back into session to try to get to the bottom of any communication that's happening between the federal Department of Justice and the Fulton County DA's office as has been alleged by some people," Dolezal said.

"Secondly, there's been a lot of talk about the Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission," Dolezal added. "That commission has a broad range of powers — up to and including removal from office. That commission has been established and will begin taking complaints in October, and [some lawmakers] will be filing complaints."

Additionally, some lawmakers may file amicus briefs supporting expected motions to dismiss Trump's indictment.

During this year's session, state lawmakers approved Senate Bill 92 to create the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission to create an oversight body with the power to investigate district attorneys and solicitors-general and potentially discipline, remove, or force them to retire. Last month, four prosecutors filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court challenging the measure's constitutionality.

The governor's office declined to comment beyond what Kemp said during a news conference last week when he said lawmakers can hold hearings now without a special session.

"My concerns with the Fulton County District Attorney's handling of this case in the special purpose grand jury have been well documented," Kemp said during a Thursday press conference. "We are now seeing what happens when prosecutors move forward with highly charged indictments and trials in the middle of an election. Simply put, it sows distrust and provides easy pickings for those who see the district attorney's action as guided by politics.

"...Up to this point, I have not seen any evidence that DA Willis' actions — or lack thereof — warrant action by the Prosecuting Attorney Oversight Commission," Kemp added. "But that will ultimately be a decision that the commission will make."

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