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DA Deborah Gonzalez's Response to Denial to Judge's Denial of Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit

District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez has responded to Chief Judge David Emerson’s ruling against a motion to dismiss a writ of mandamus filed against her office. Gonzalez said she was deeply disappointed in the judge’s decision.

Athens bar owner Jarrod Miller contends that Gonzalez is neglecting her duties as DA by not prosecuting certain cases including low-level drug cases and truancy. She is hoping to appeal the decision and is awaiting permission from Judge Emerson before moving forward with that appeal.

DA Gonzalez response:

I am deeply disappointed in Judge Emerson’s order denying the dismissal of the writ of mandamus. It is apparent that the arguments of the dismissal request were not properly considered, nor was the existing law properly applied. The decision effectively endorses the misuse of the writ of mandamus to deprive me and my office of our prosecutorial discretion and our obligations to make decisions in the public’s best interest instead of one discontented citizen’s personal beliefs.

How or which alleged crimes to indict or try, how to prioritize felonies over misdemeanors, how to offer or determine pleas, and/or how to advise or use a grand jury are all choices that fall squarely within the broad prosecutorial discretion afforded to all District Attorneys in this State and here in Athens-Clarke County.

If Mr. Miller is successful, permitting this action to proceed effectively means a superior court judge, whom the citizens of this District did not elect, will be “looking over my shoulder” going forward every day to decide if I am doing my job in a manner that the judge agrees with. The consequence is the disenfranchisement of you, the voter’s choice, and the policies you, the voters, endorsed through the electoral process. It does not bode well for any elected official and, if permitted to continue, shows how easily the mandamus writ could be weaponized for political gain.

In light of my disagreement with the judge’s order, my legal team has asked to be granted a certificate of immediate review so that I may request that the Georgia Court of Appeals be given an opportunity to rule on these issues now. The judge has until May 19th, 2023, to rule on whether he will permit me to appeal the decision at this time.

Alexia Ridley joined WUGA as Television and Radio News Anchor and Reporter in 2013. When WUGA TV concluded operations, she became the primary Reporter for WUGA Radio. Alexia came to Athens from Macon where she served as the News Director and show host for WGXA TV. She's a career journalist and Savannah native hailing from the University of Michigan. However, Alexia considers herself an honorary UGA DAWG!