District Attorney’s Report: Doing the right thing

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A whiff of summer is upon us and I am yet again thankful for the blessing of air conditioning. Away from the Office, I have been happily watching our little backyard garden sprout while dreaming of some fresh tomatoes and green beans. Here’s to hoping the deer and rabbits don’t get to them first.

As things heat up outside, our offices continue to simmer with trials and trial preparation. [Recently], a Spalding County Jury sent another message to wrongdoers in our community by convicting an armed robber who stole a purse from a customer at the Ringgold’s Grocery at the point of a gun.

Our team was headed by Adele Petersen and Holly MacDonald with support from our victim advocates, investigators, and the hard work of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office. I am very proud of their hard work and the outcome.

Judge W. Fletcher Sams sentenced the Defendant, who was a felon previously convicted of armed robbery, to life without the possibility of parole.

While I often focus on the outward result of my offices’ work, there are thousands of decisions that take place without ever entering the public eye. This work is not done in secret, of course, but the kind editors who publish these articles would not have room for me to tell you about everything that happens on a given day in our office.

What do I mean by these thousand quiet decisions? I am referring to cases that cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that are dismissed, pleas that are negotiated with due consideration to the victims, defendants, and community at large, and hard conversations that happen between our Office and Defense Attorneys, Victims, and the law enforcement officers who bring us cases.

The guiding principle that I strive to follow, and what I expect each of my employees to follow, is this: always do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and especially when no one is looking.

How does this play out? A case comes across your desk where someone was caught red-handed with a significant amount of hard drugs. But, in reviewing the file, you see the investigating officer has made what appears to be a mistake — he should have obtained a search warrant. There might be some arguable legal justification for why he didn’t, but what is the right thing to do?

Pursue a charge when you know someone is guilty but the evidence was not obtained according to the law? Or dismiss the case and address the mistake with the law enforcement officer? What is the right thing?

Hard as it might be to let someone who is guilty of poisoning our community walk free, the right thing to do is dismiss the case and talk to the officer so the violation of a Constitutional right does not happen again. Thankfully, law enforcement in our Circuit also strive to do the right thing and this issue rarely arises. Yet, these sorts of decisions happen on a large and small scale every day in our office. And they are not easy choices. But you trust us to make them and we do not take that for granted.

None of us are perfect. We make mistakes. But our oath and our duty are clear: please know that even when you are not looking — we are striving to do the right thing.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Mother’s Day. I am the product of an amazing mother, grandmothers, and a lovely mother-in-law. Many great women in my family have fought so that I could be the first appointed and then elected female District Attorney of the Griffin Judicial Circuit.

I pray that I can show my daughter that she can also achieve anything that she strives to be. Thank you to all the mothers out there. You make the world go round. Until next time, be kind to your mamas and also to one another.

[Marie Broder has served as the Griffin Judicial Circuit district attorney since 2020. She resides in Griffin.]