COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — In an order issued late Monday afternoon, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has suspended Muscogee County District Attorney Mark Jones effective immediately.
This came at the recommendation of the three-person commission that reviewed Jones’ status after he was indicted last month.
News 3 has reached out to Jones multiple times and he has not responded.
Jones was accused in a nine-count indictment brought by the attorney general’s office following a GBI investigation of alleged criminal misconduct during his first eight months in office. Because the indictment alleges wrongdoing in the performance of his duties, the governor can suspend Jones until the legal matter plays out.
Jones was accused of asking a Columbus Police Office to lie under oath so that an involuntary manslaughter case could be upgraded to murder. Multiple sources have told News 3 that the conversation was on video tape.
Jones is scheduled for arraignment Oct. 12, 2021. That hearing at the Government Center will be in front of Superior Court Judge Katherine K. Lumsden of Warner Robins. She was assigned the case. It was investigated by the GBI and brought to Grand Jury by the Attorney General’s office.
Jones is currently acting as his own attorney, according to filings in the Superior Court Clerk’s Office.
Recently retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton and two sitting DA’s from other parts of the state were on the three-person commission that recommended the suspension.
“The review commission found that the indictment of Mr. Mark P. Jones does relate to and does adversely affect the administration of the office of the district attorney and that the rights and interest of the public are adversely affected thereby; and recommended that Mr. Jones be suspended from office pursuant provision of O.C.G.A. 45-5-6.”
The Chief Assistant District Attorney usually steps into the interim role for a suspended DA. Chief Assistant DA Sheneka Jones Terry has been out of the office recently on maternity leave. She is also named in the indictment as a potential witness against her boss in the criminal case. The indictment alleged that Jones attempted to bribe her by offering $1,000 in exchange for obtaining a murder conviction.
Chief Superior Court Judge Gil McBride told News 3 late Monday that he was hitting a pause button in his court.
“In my cases and mine alone in Muscogee County, I have decided I will put a pause on all negotiated pleas and probation violations until the interim DA has a chance to look them over,” McBride said.
But he said this should not impact the judicial system in the Chattahoochee Circuit, a six-county area that Jones serves.
“All other criminal cases in Muscogee County and across the circuit will proceed,” McBride said. “We will still be setting bonds and having trials and taking other measures as we normally would.”