The Office of the District Attorney serves primarily as the prosecuting attorney in the Superior Court of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties. In Athens-Clarke County, the district attorney is responsible for the prosecution of all criminal cases involving at least one felony charge. Additionally, there is a responsibility to pursue, when appropriate, certain civil actions such as RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), drug, gambling, and bond forfeitures.
A corollary to the actual prosecution of cases in our Superior Courts is the practical responsibility of the office to organize, manage, and present the criminal cases before the three Superior Court judges. Further, the district attorney serves as the prosecuting attorney in the Juvenile Court in those instances when a child (less than 17 years of age) is accused of a delinquent and/or unruly act. Moreover, the district attorney represents the State of Georgia in the Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals in those cases arising out of this jurisdiction, which includes researching and drafting briefs and presenting oral arguments, serving as the official legal adviser to the grand jury, and providing legal advice on an informal basis to local law enforcement agencies.
Lastly, the district attorney’s office handles preliminary hearings and special bond hearings in Magistrate Court, operates a pretrial diversion program, and staffs two alternative courts – Judge Jones’ Drug Court Program and Judge Sweat’s Treatment and Accountability Court. As used above, the term “prosecute” involves, first and foremost, that exercise of discretion in determining whether to prosecute at all and, if so, whom and how to prosecute. The overriding goal of this office is to ensure that those persons who are not responsible are not held responsible and that those persons who are responsible are held responsible and held responsible in an appropriate way.
To this end, our attendant goal is to give individual attention to each case in spite of the vast number of cases received for prosecution, and the expected demands and urgencies of the caseload. At the forefront of every case is the priority to identify those which involve victims and to provide assistance as needed. Assistance may include notification of prosecutorial and court action, counseling, referral to social service agencies, court accompaniment, and the like. This service to victims is done not only because it is required by the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, but also because it is the right thing to do.