Georgia State Representatives Sandra Scott, Viola Davis and two other lawmakers filed complaints in January to the State Bar of Georgia against attorney Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill following their handling of Ahmaud Arbery’s death investigation.
A complaint said Johnson and Barnhill violated their public oaths and showed favor to the men who are now convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery.
Another complaint went after attorney Kevin Gough who represented William Bryan during the state trial.
The Georgia State Representatives want Johnson and Barnhill disbarred and reviewed for conflicts of interest and discrimination.
The state bar of Georgia dismissed their complaints.
“I was very hurt.” Arbery’s aunt Diane Jackson says her family was skeptical of the attorneys. “My family was very hurt that we had people in the system like that and all the evidence was there of how they did him.”
Last year Jackie Johnson was indicted on charges of violating her oath of office and hindering a police officer.
In the compliant, the lawmakers say Johnson and Barnhill showed favor to the men now convicted in state and federal courts.
“She prolonged investigation,” said Georgia Representative Sandra Scott. “As a matter of fact, I don’t think she would have even taken up the investigation until the video surfaced.”
Representative Scott said the convictions should’ve played a role but also said their actions in the beginning of the case should’ve been enough.
“They said that we did not have enough evidence to prove that she had actually violated the law,” Representative Scott said. “And beyond a reasonable doubt that she had been in violation of breaking professional standards. And we believe that not to be true.”
The State Bar of Georgia sent News4JAX this statement:
The State Bar of Georgia is an arm of the Supreme Court of Georgia, and our Bar Rules are issued by the Court. The rules authorize us to reveal information about a grievance in very limited circumstances. Bar Rule 4-221.1 (j) says that “Members of the Office of the General Counsel and State Disciplinary Board may respond to specific inquiries concerning matters that have been made public by the complainant, respondent, or third parties but are otherwise confidential under these Rules by acknowledging the existence and status of the proceeding.” Pursuant to that rule, we can acknowledge that the Bar received the grievances that the legislators refer to, and that the grievances have been dismissed. We are not able to comment further.
Jackson said the state bar not taking any action is a sign that the state still has a long way to go. “Because if you saw the evidence, what it was about, it was racist, but you say you’re going to throw it out, I’m very upset.”
She says her family knows what they have to do and that getting full justice for Ahmaud means holding these attorneys accountable.
Representative Viola Davis sent a complaint against William Bryan’s Attorney Kevin Gough, requesting that he be censored following his comments about black pastors in the court room during the state trial.
The State Bar also dismissed this complaint.
The representatives say they will reevaluate the complaint because they think there is enough evidence.