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On August 9, 2023, I was honored to be sworn in by Governor Kemp as his appointee to the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualification Commission (PAQC) Hearing Panel. The PAQC was created by law in the 2023 legislative session and was signed into law by the Governor on May 5, 2023. Codified as OCGA 15-18-32, the law gives the PAQC “the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of appointed or elected district attorneys or solicitors-general[.]” In doing so, the PAQC law relies on Article VI, Section VIII, Paragraph II of the Georgia Constitution, which states, “Any district attorney may be disciplined, removed or involuntarily retired as provided by general law.”
The PAQC consists of eight members, five of which serve on the Commission’s Investigative Panel and three of which serve on the Hearing Panel. Among each panel’s various duties, the Investigatory Panel investigates alleged conduct constituting grounds for discipline according to the law, and the Hearing Panel adjudicates formal charges filed by the Investigative Panel, including issuing disciplinary and incapacity orders. The law directs the Commission to promulgate standards of conduct and rules for the Commission’s governance, which comply with due process and enforce the law’s stated general grounds for discipline, as listed in subsections (h) and (i) of the law.
The members of the PAQC Investigative Panel, appointed as outlined in OCGA 15-18-32(d)(3)(A), are former DA and former Superior Court Judge of the Alcovy Circuit John Ott, Statesboro Attorney Joseph Cowart, Savannah Attorney Steve Scheer, Cobb Circuit Deputy Chief Assistant DA Jason Saliba, and Alcovy Circuit DA Randy McGinley. The members of the PAQC Hearing Panel, appointed as outlined in OCGA 15-18-32(d)(4), in addition to myself, are Chattahoochee Circuit DA Stacey Jackson (also the presiding member of the Hearing Panel) and former DA and former Superior Court Judge of the Macon Circuit Howard Simms.
According to the law, the PAQC commenced on July 1, 2023, and should establish the Commission’s rules and regulations by October 1, 2023. I look forward to serving the State of Georgia and its prosecutors on the PAQC Hearing Panel, which I will do in addition to continuing to serve as District Attorney of the Coweta Judicial Circuit.
JOHN HERBERT CRANFORD, JR.
COWETA JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
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