COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The attorney for embattled District Attorney Mark Jones has been removed from the public corruption case, according to a decision filed in Superior Court on Monday
Houston County Superior Court Judge Katherine Lumsden issued the ruling removing Chris Breault as Jones’ defense attorney, after a hearing on the matter last Thursday.
Jones is facing a nine count indictment of criminal misconduct in his first eight months in office.
Jones was suspended last month by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp pending the Nov. 8, 2021 scheduled trial.
Breault, a close friend and confidant of Jones, enter the case on Oct. 12, 2021, after Jones had spent a month representing himself.
Breault was dismissed by the judge because he is a likely witness in the case.
In the order, Lumsden cited Facebook message between Breault and Andrew Loyd, a witness in a murder case Jones had tried and ended in a mistrial. Loyd was a crucial witness in the state’s murder case against Drevon Johnson.
“The gist of the communication memorialized in the messages is: if Mr. Loyd cooperates, Mr. Breault will get his probation warrant and/or felony warrant dismissed and if he doesn’t, Mr. Jones will prosecute and send him to prison,” according to the order.
Here’s where the problem lies, according to Lumsden’s order.
“The use of the defendant’s private lawyer/friend (not law enforcement or the DA’s investigator) to find and persuade a witness is unheard of and fraught with ethical problems,” Lumsden wrote.
The judge also ruled on a number of other items:
— She granted the state’s motion to prevent Jones from calling witnesses or making an argument about his suspension.
“This is a collateral consequence of a conviction and is irrelevant to the jury’s determination of the case,” the order read.
— The court has ruled that testimony from the unrelated criminal property damage case can not be heard. Jones and four others were charged with damage to the Civic Center parking lot during the taping of a May 2020 campaign video.
That case was tried last month, with Breault representing Jones. It ended in a mistrial after witness misconduct. The special prosecutor, Brian Patterson, said last month he would drop the charges. They were officially dropped on Monday.
“This topic is irrelevant and inadmissible,” Lumsden wrote in her order.
Just before the clerk’s office closed Monday, Breault – still acting as Jones’ attorney despite the order – filed a motion to have Lumsden disqualified as “unfair, biased and partial.”
Breault’s motion claims Lumsden favors law enforcement and is against Jones because her husband is a sergeant in the Georgia State Patrol.
“It is clear that Judge Lumsden is prejudiced against DA Mark Jones and determined to deprive him of a fair trial,” Breault said in a statement to News 3. “She is very biased in favor of Law Enforcement—her husband is a long-time member of the Georgia State Patrol. This afternoon we filed a Motion to Disqualify Unfair and Biased Judge, and expect her to be removed from the case.”