It’s long been known that in many places that if you know the district attorney, you’re less likely to get charged. That certainly seemed to be the case with the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia.
In a shooting that really does seem to have been, at a minimum, something for the courts to determine, favoritism seemed to play a definite role in the early decision not to charge the accused.
That decision has now resulted in the former DA who made it being booked.
Jackie Johnson, who was district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit for 10 years, turned herself in at the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office early Wednesday morning.
Bond was set at $10,000, but she was released on her own recognizance, meaning she did not have to pay a cash bond.
Johnson, 49, who was strongly criticized over the way she handled the Ahmaud Arbery case, was indicted last week by a Glynn County grand jury on charges of violation of oath of public officer and obstruction of a police officer. The charges are related to the investigation surrounding the deadly shooting of Arbery.
Specifically, the indictment (in full at end of the article) accuses Johnson in February 2020 of violating her oath as district attorney “by showing favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation.” Greg McMichael had once worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office.
Johnson also failed “to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity,” the indictment states. It alleges that after Arbery’s death, Johnson sought the assistance of Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill and, after disqualifying her for office, recommended Barnhill to the Attorney General’s Office for appointment as the case prosecutor without disclosing that she had previously sought Barnhill’s assistance on the case.
The indictment also alleges Johnson “knowingly and willfully” directed officers to not arrest Greg McMichael’s adult son Travis McMichael.
In other words, she gave someone she knew a pass when there’s reason to have proceeded forward with an indictment.
Some people obviously disagree, but that’s really something the courts should decide.
Aubrey supposedly trespassed on a construction site. However, he wasn’t confronted in the commission of any crime, and Georgia law tends to not take kindly to people chasing down suspected criminals and confronting them. Especially if that confrontation leads to someone being shot and killed.
It’s entirely possible that a jury would decide McMichael acted in a justified manner.
However, Johnson knew that even if she believed the evidence was clear cut, her relationship with McMichael was going to make her decision suspect. She should have asked someone else to handle the case in an effort to avoid a potential conflict of interest. She didn’t. Instead, she decided to say charges shouldn’t be filed.
That caused so many more problems…and McMichael still got charged.
Plus, she’s now looking at one to five years in prison on the violation of her oath of office and up to another 12 months on the obstruction charge.
She probably should have just asked the state attorney general to appoint someone to handle this one from the start. At least then she wouldn’t be wondering how she’ll look in prison orange.