Cobb County DA: No conflict in Ahmaud Arbery case

One of the men facing murder charges in the death of Ahmaud Arbery previously worked as an investigator for Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office and once helped the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, which has taken over the Arbery case, track down a witness.

In the legal world, it’s not uncommon for investigators to work in different offices throughout the state, especially if they are investigating a case in that county. That’s what happened in Georgia when the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office traveled to Glynn County for a case.

According to a post on the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office Facebook page, in fall 2016, Cobb County prosecutors tried a Cobb County case in Brunswick upon a change-of-venue order issued by the judge in that case.

Cobb County’s staff used the Glynn County District Attorney Office for workspace for the duration of that monthslong trial.

At that time, Cobb County’s trial team had professional interactions with employees of the Glynn County District Attorney’s Office, including its investigator Gregory McMichael.

Attorney Gene Nichols, who is not affiliated with the case, said this is common practice and does not imply a conflict on interest.

“The case we have here, just because Cobb County had come into Brunswick and had participated in some investigations before, as long as we know that the prosecutors out of Cobb don’t know this person individually, don’t have a personal relationship with him, then there’s not going to be any problem with them prosecuting him,” Nichols said.

In a separate incident, in spring 2017, a now-former investigator with the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office communicated with McMichael for help locating a witness who lived in Glynn County and was needed to testify in a Cobb County murder case. There has been no continuing relationship between Cobb County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans and McMichael.

Staying with transparency, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office also explained that the Special Victims Unit of the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office includes a prosecutor who came to the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office after working in the Glynn County District Attorney’s Office. She has no involvement in prosecuting the McMichael case.

“In unfortunate circumstances, we are sometimes called upon to prosecute people we know professionally,” said current Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes. “Professional interactions between prosecuting agencies and even law enforcement are commonplace and do not create a legal or factual conflict in proceeding with a case.”

Holmes addressed these circumstances with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr before accepting the appointment to the Arbery case, and she has also discussed them with the parents of Arbery and their counsel.

Arbery, 25, was shot and killed Feb. 23 after a pursuit by Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, 34-year-old Travis McMichael.

The McMichaels are charged with murder and aggravated assault in Arbery’s death, but those arrests didn’t come until after video of the shooting surfaced.

About the Author: