A conversation with Flynn Broady

Flynn Broady headshot used in article Flynn Broady sworn inFlynn Broady (photo courtesy of the Broady campaign)

The Courier had a conversation with Flynn Broady, a candidate for Cobb County District Attorney, at Cool Beans Coffee Roasters, a few blocks from the courthouse, where he works as a prosecutor in the DUI court.

Broady is running in the 2020 election for the post vacated by Vic Reynolds when Reynolds was appointed the Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Conversation about Broady’s background

Asked to tell a little about his background, Broady said, “I grew up in a military family. Both my grandfather and my father served in the military, my grandfather during World War II, my dad during the Vietnam era. Somehow he did 20 years and missed going to Vietnam.”

He said, “I graduated from high school in Birmingham, Alabama. I went to Tennessee State on an engineering scholarship, but I always have a craving, just wanting to serve my country, so I joined the military.”

He said he served 26 years in the Army.

“I joined as an infantryman, did a lot of things while I was in the Army,” he said.  “I was a recruiter for some time. I was an instructor for some time. So I did quite a few things.”

“I taught ROTC for Seton Hall University,” he said, “and that’s where I got my law degree. I was teaching during the day, going to law school at night. So that was fun, a lot of hard work. I had no time for myself, but it was a lot of fun and it all paid off.”

He said he left the Army in 2008 and moved to Georgia.

“My first and only job has been with Cobb County,” he said.  “I started in the Solicitor General’s office in October of 2008. I stayed there until April of 2015, and I went to the Veteran’s Court as the court coordinator, helping veterans who’d gotten in trouble with the law, helping them to recover from addiction issues, substance abuse, domestic violence issues, things like that.”

He said he then returned to the Solicitor General’s office, and was sent to work as a prosecutor in the DUI court.

“So my entire life has been in the service of this country, (and) the community,” he said. “As far as my legal career, it’s all been in prosecution.”

He said his experience included prosecuting misdemeanor crimes, domestic violence, drug crimes, and traffic tickets.

“It gives you an opportunity to view and see the different ways our statutes work,” he said.

Military experience

But he said his military experience is what he believes prepared him best for the job of District Attorney.

“When it comes to the District Attorney’s office I think my military service is what really qualifies me for that,” he said, “because I had an opportunity to lead people, and make them be better than what they were. And that’s one thing that I always say about my military career, and that people can look back on. Everywhere I went I made it better than it was before.”

“I always call myself a builder not a fixer,” he said. “What I mean by a builder is I get in there and I build from a base that when I leave it still continues to be better. Because you hate to go somewhere, and you leave, and it gets worse because you left.”

Equal protection under the law

Asked to comment on the section of his campaign website that emphasizes equal protection under the law, he said, “I think it just boils down to having a conversation with mostly our minority community. Because when you go into a courtroom now, when you first go in the first impression you have is that the only people being arrested are minorities. And that’s not the case. The Cobb County police, the Cobb County DA’s office the Cobb County solicitor’s office, they do a good job in prosecuting crime, no matter who does it.”

“And people have to rid themselves of the perception that it’s only minorities that are committing crimes,” he said.

“What we do see is that minorities can be less able to hire an attorney. And so the more likely they have to represent themselves in court,” he said.

He said the lack of ability to hire a lawyer was the source of the imbalance in the court system.

“Most of the time even a new solicitor is going to be able to overcome a pro se defendant, one without a lawyer, on any type of charge because of their education, and their ability to prosecute the crime,” he said.

He said sometime the defendant may be innocent or there might be special circumstances that an attorney could put forward in court.

“And one of the things that I try to do as prosecutor, is I try to make sure that I treat everyone the same whether they have an attorney or they don’t have an attorney.”

He said his goal is to make sure that people charged with similar crimes, and with similar criminal histories, are treated equally in court.

Asked about the inequality that results from the differences of defendants to make bond, he said,he said the DA could talk to the judges in Magistrate and Superior courts to make sure reasonable bonds are set for non-violent criminals who are likely to show up for their court dates.

“Because our bondsmen here, they’re making a lot of money,” he said. “A $10,000 bond, you pay a thousand dollars to a bondsman, well he really doesn’t give up any money as long as you come back to court. And so it’s almost a no-risk situation for them. There are some that may jump bond, but that number is very few.”

He said, “So we need to be able to make sure that bond is set to make sure you appear in court. So if we know you’re going to return, then the bond should be very little if any at all.”

Cobb County gang activity

Asked about the emphasis on gang prosecution in the Cobb County District Attorney’s office over the past few years, Broady said,  “I haven’t seen the statistics yet. But my thought process is we’re so focused on eliminating this gang activity, at the court level. And that’s not where it starts. It starts in the home, it starts in the school. Those are the places that we have to reach into and talk to these young men and women.”

He said, “My thought process here is that we have a coalition in the Solicitor General’s office or law enforcement agencies, or schools where we do presentations at the school, talk to these young men, these young ladies, and tell them about the issues about gang violence, how to avert being part of a gang, what to do if you’re approached by a gang so we can stem the problem where it starts.”

“Because by the time it reaches the court level, it’s too late,” he said.  “We can punish them all we want, but that’s not going to keep people from being forced into gangs, or joining gangs because lots of them believe it’s a badge of honor that they’ve been to jail.”

Accountability courts

Asked about the role of accountability courts where he has worked as a prosecutor, he said, “They rehabilitate people versus punishment. And rehabilitation means that we identify what is the underlying cause that led to substance abuse, that led to petty theft.”

“Most of the time petty theft crimes are to get money to buy drugs,” he said. “And so if we can discover those underlying issues and solve those issues we can return that person back to the community as a productive citizen. And that’s what they want more than anything, because most people who delve into those things, they’re trying to find an alternate reality.”

“They’re trying to escape what’s going on in the real world, and put them in a world that really doesn’t exist except when you’re on drugs. And so if we can discover the underlying issues, whether it’s unemployment, whether it’s domestic violence … if we can discover those underlying issues, and solve those issues for that person we can do that through the accountability courts, because the way they’re structured is to focus on counseling, and focus on accountability.”

“If we can do that, we do two things,” he said. “We fix that person, and we save the county money because instead of putting these people in jail, now we’re putting them back on the street, into the community, productive. Because most of them have to get jobs when they’re going through the accountability courts. They’re going to counseling for the substance abuse issues, they’re going to AA meetings, they’re going to NA meetings, doing the things that it’s going to take them in the long term future to be productive and good citizens.”

Asked how much influence the District Attorney has over the accountability courts, he said, “Well the DA is the gatekeeper of who gets into the accountability courts. Because the accountability courts don’t refer their own people. They get referrals from the DA’s office.”

He said he favors more resources for the accountability courts.

“I think we can focus on researching and getting more grant money from the state, from the federal government, to focus on those things, and then identify the savings that we’re doing for the county, maybe even get more money from the county to help in that respect also,” he said.

Hard on crime

“My biggest thing is I want people to know is accountability courts, changing bonds, doing these type things, is not saying we’re not going to be hard on crime,” he said.

“Because our ultimate goal, our ultimate responsibility is the safety of the community. And so that’s what we’re going to be focused on. And I really believe that by reducing gang enrollment, by reducing drug use, we’re going to make the community safe. We’re going to make it more productive, which is going to save the county money, it’s going to produce more money for the county, it’s going to make living easier for everybody involved.”