As Trump inquiry continues, Republicans seek oversight of Georgia prosecutors

By | March 6, 2023

The New York Times reports:

To Fani T. Willis, the district attorney in Atlanta, several bills in the Georgia legislature that would make it easier to remove local prosecutors are racist and perhaps retaliatory for her ongoing investigation of former President Donald J. Trump.

To the Republican sponsors of the bills, they are simply a way to ensure that prosecutors enforce the laws of the state, whether they agree with them or not.

Two of the measures under consideration would create a new state oversight board that could punish or remove prosecutors for loosely defined reasons, including “willful misconduct.” A third would sharply reduce the number of signatures required to seek a recall of a district attorney.

The proposals are part of a broader push by conservative lawmakers around the country to rein in prosecutors whom they consider too liberal, and who in some cases are refusing to prosecute low-level drug crimes or enforce strict new anti-abortion laws.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida last year suspended a Democratic prosecutor in the Tampa area, Andrew Warren, after Mr. Warren said, among other things, that he would not prosecute anyone seeking abortions. The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House voted in November to impeach Larry Krasner, the liberal district attorney in Philadelphia. And a Republican-backed bill currently under consideration in the Indiana legislature would allow a special prosecuting attorney, appointed by the state attorney general, to step in if a local prosecutor is “categorically refusing to prosecute certain crimes.”

The debate in Georgia is unfolding amid mounting concerns over urban crime, particularly in Atlanta. But Ms. Willis has been a centrist law-and-order prosecutor who has targeted some prominent local rappers in a sprawling gang case. She is also part of the changing face of justice in Georgia: The state now has a record number of minority prosecutors — 14 of them — up from five in 2020, the year Ms. Willis, who is Black, was voted into office.

And of course, there is the Trump inquiry, the latest accelerant to the partisan conflagrations that have consumed the increasingly divided state for years. The subject of Ms. Willis’s investigation is whether Mr. Trump and his allies tried to flout Georgia’s democratic process with numerous instances of interference after his narrow 2020 election loss in the state.

Ms. Willis has said she is considering building a racketeering or conspiracy case. Anticipation is rising, particularly since the forewoman of a special grand jury charged with looking into the matter spoke publicly last month, saying that the jury’s final report, which is still largely under wraps, recommended indictments for more than a dozen people.

Ms. Willis must now decide whether to bring a case to a regular grand jury, which can issue indictments. A decision ‌could come as early as ‌May. [Continue reading…]

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