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Georgia bill would allow prosecutor oversight commission to adopt own rules

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(The Center Square) — Georgia senators have pre-filed legislation that ostensibly addresses the state Supreme Court’s Nov. 22 administrative order that found approving the standards of conduct for the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission is outside its authority.

In the order, the court said it had “grave doubts that adopting the standards and rules would be within our constitutional power.”

“If the statute at issue imposed on us a mandatory duty to approve the draft standards and rules, we would have to decide whether such a statutory provision was constitutional; if it was, we would be obligated to comply,” the Supreme Court said in its order. “But the statute does not impose on us such a duty; it simply conditions the effectiveness of the standards and rules upon our approval.”

According to Senate President Pro Tempore John F. Kennedy, R-Macon, and state Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, the newly proposed Senate Bill 332 would allow the commission to adopt its internal guidelines and rules in line with other state commissions.

“I respect the Supreme Court’s narrow opinion on this specific issue and appreciate the limits of their authority,” Kennedy said in an announcement.

“We recognize the important role that prosecutors play in our communities and, by prefiling this bill, affirm our intent to hold rogue prosecutors accountable,” Kennedy added. “We believe this bill reinforces the need for Georgia prosecutors to focus on achieving results in the courtroom, not legislating from the desk to appease fringe constituencies.”

Last year, state lawmakers approved Senate Bill 92 to create the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, an oversight body with the power to investigate district attorneys and solicitors-general and potentially discipline, remove, or force them to retire.

“We have seen theatrics take hold in Georgia over the safety and welfare of our communities as some prosecutors promise ‘reform’ and then deliver nothing but ineffectiveness and blatant disregard of the law,” Robertson, the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 92, said in a release.

“Most of the state’s prosecutors follow the law, adhere to their duties, and their communities remain safe and prosperous, and those individuals should be celebrated,” Robertson added. “On the other hand, you have a few rogue prosecutors that refuse to prosecute violent criminals, lead defunct and understaffed offices, and impose blanket policies for non-prosecution of crimes.”

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