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Republican Legislators Seek More Control Over Local Prosecutors

To Atlanta district attorney Fani Willis, bills in the Georgia legislature that would make it easier to remove local prosecutors are racist and perhaps retaliatory for her investigation of former President Trump. To the Republican sponsors, the bills are a way to ensure that prosecutors enforce the laws of the state. Two of the measures would create a state oversight board that could punish or remove prosecutors for loosely defined reasons, including “willful misconduct.” A third would sharply reduce the number of signatures required to seek a recall of a district attorney. The proposals are part of a broader push by conservative lawmakers around the U.S. to rein in prosecutors whom they consider too liberal, and who in some cases are refusing to prosecute low-level drug crimes or enforce strict new anti-abortion laws, reports the New York Times.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last year suspended a Democratic prosecutor in the Tampa area, Andrew Warren, after Warren said he would not prosecute anyone seeking abortions. The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House voted in November to impeach Larry Krasner, the liberal district attorney in Philadelphia. A Republican-backed bill in the Indiana legislature would allow a special prosecuting attorney, appointed by the state attorney general, to step in if a local prosecutor is “categorically refusing to prosecute certain crimes.” The debate in Georgia is unfolding amid mounting concerns over urban crime. Willis has been a centrist law-and-order prosecutor who has targeted some prominent local rappers in a sprawling gang case. She is also part of the changing face of justice in Georgia: The state now has a record number of minority prosecutors — 14 of them — up from five in 2020, the year Willis, who is Black, was voted into office. In the Trump inquiry, the subject of Willis’s investigation is whether Trump and his allies tried to flout Georgia’s democratic process with numerous instances of interference after his narrow 2020 election loss in the state.

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