When People in Higher Office Get Away With Crimes

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jul 14, 2014 | 2 Comments

The Georgia Supreme Court, yet again, rebuked former Douglas County District Attorney David McDade for allowing his office to prosecute a case in which he has a “personal interest.”

In a unanimous opinion in McLaughlin v. Payne, No. S14A0220, written by Justice Hines, the Court held that:

"When the elected district attorney is wholly disqualified from a case, the assistant district attorneys—whose only power to prosecute a case is derived from the constitutional authority of the district attorney who appointed them—have no authority to proceed,"

The District Attorney supervises his employees and disciplines them.  He makes the hiring and firing decisions.  As the Court held:

“The elected district attorney is not merely any prosecuting attorney," wrote Hines, adding that the DA is a constitutional officer. "The elected district attorney appoints the assistant district attorneys ... the assistant district attorneys serve only at his pleasure and their authority is derived from him."

This type of misconduct was the norm for McDade while in office.  He was previously sued for sexual harassment of his female employees, only winning that lawsuit on qualified immunity (not on the merits).

He also was recently allowed to resign his office for “clerical errors” involving $4000 in expenditures at his office.  He agreed to re-pay the $4000 and resign from office. With his resignation, numerous other allegations will now go un-investigated.

That is what makes my blood boil.  His office was responsible for prosecuting thefts and felony shoplifting involving amounts of money far less than $4000.00.  Why was he allowed to simply resign his office versus having his case heard by a Grand Jury and then prosecuted?  Why is his handpicked successor now the District Attorney? How on earth is this fair?

I have represented thousands of people in my career that would gladly have given up their jobs in order to avoid criminal prosecution.  Why is that benefit only afforded to people in higher office?  Time and time again we see the poor and weak prosecuted by people like McDade, while his conduct goes unpunished.  He is now enjoying a lifetime pension in retirement.  People he prosecuted, for far less, are in jail today.  This is sickening.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


William H. Sherman Reply

Posted Jul 16, 2014 at 10:03:47


Public corruption anywhere, but particularly in the criminal justice system, is a most insidious breach of the public trust. Your article does a great job of highlighting a local “culprit” (David McDade) and raising some tough questions — like why he wasn’t prosecuted and why he was allowed to handpick his successor.

Bill Sherman

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Jul 16, 2014 at 10:06:45

Thanks Bill. Funny how McDade never found anyone he did not want to send to prison or the death penalty.

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