Cobb DA issues statement on conflict questions in McMichael prosecution

scales of justice in article about Joyette Holmes possible conflict in the Ahmaud Arbery caseScales of Justice (public domain image released by Wikimedia Commons)

The Cobb County District Attorney‘s office issued the following statement regarding possible conflicts in the appointment of Cobb DA Joyette Holmes as prosecutor in the trial of Gregory and Travis McMichael, who are charged with murder and aggravated assault in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23.

May 14, 2020 ­– Cobb District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes offers this comment on handling the prosecution of Gregory and Travis McMichael in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

In fall 2016, Cobb prosecutors tried a Cobb County case in Brunswick, Ga., upon a change-of-venue order issued by the judge in that case. The Glynn County District Attorney’s Office vacated a portion of their office space to allow Cobb’s staff to have work space for the duration of that months-long trial.

At that time, Cobb’s trial team had professional interactions with employees of the Glynn County DA’s Office, including their investigator, Gregory McMichael. Additionally, in spring 2017, a now-former investigator with our office communicated with McMichael for help locating a witness who lived in Glynn County and was needed to testify in a Cobb murder case. There has been no continuing relationship between Cobb Deputy Chief ADA Jesse Evans and McMichael.

By participating in the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia, prosecutors and investigators from across the state routinely connect through various trainings and conferences. This is not limited to our office and the Glynn County DA’s Office.

Also, as in any profession, prosecutors and investigators often change employment from one office to another. The Special Victims Unit of the Cobb DA’s Office includes a prosecutor who came to us after working in the Glynn County DA’s Office. She has no involvement in prosecuting the McMichael case.

DA Holmes addressed these circumstances with Attorney General Chris Carr before accepting the appointment to this case, and she has also discussed them with the parents of Ahmaud Arbery and their counsel.

“In unfortunate circumstances, we are sometimes called upon to prosecute people we know professionally,” DA Holmes said. “Professional interactions between prosecuting agencies and even law enforcement are commonplace and do not create a legal or factual conflict in proceeding with a case.”

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