Georgia Governor interviews finalists for Columbus DA position

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Governor Brian Kemp speaks during a visit to the Columbus Civic Center mass vaccination site in this LE file photo. Kemp met with four potential replacements for the vacant Columbus DA position.

mcook@ledger-enquirer.com

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp this week interviewed at least four finalists vying to replace Mark Jones, the Columbus District Attorney who resigned in November after pleading guilty to office misconduct.

Two of the candidates told the Ledger-Enquirer on Thursday that they were among those the governor called back for follow-up interviews and confirmed the names of the others, whom the newspaper had already contacted.

All are local attorneys who hope to serve as the chief prosecutor for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit which, in addition to Muscogee, includes Harris, Chattahoochee, Talbot, Taylor and Marion counties.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the candidates Kemp is considering:

  • William Hocutt IV, district attorney since 2006, from Troup County, and assistant district attorney here since 2010.
  • Stacey Jackson, criminal defense attorney at Columbus Hagler, Henderson, Jackson & Walters, and former assistant district attorney here.
  • Pete Temesgen, a former assistant district attorney here who is currently with the law firm Huff, Powell & Bailey.
  • Sheneka Terry, the chief assistant district attorney under Jones, who has served as acting district attorney for the circuit since Kemp suspended Jones in October.

Hocutt and Jackson are the two who confirmed they were finalists and confirmed the names of the other two contestants. Terry previously told the Ledger-Enquirer that she applied for the job. Each met the governor on Wednesday.

It’s unclear when Kemp will make the appointment and whether he’ll be able to consider candidates he hasn’t called for follow-up interviews. A rep for Kemp said she couldn’t comment on a schedule on Thursday.

In January, Kemp called for nominations to fill the position until Jones’ unexpired term expires in December 2024.

Jones, 40, took office in January 2021 after defeating incumbent Julia Slater in the 2020 election, but only served 10 months before Kemp suspended him after he was indicted on a felony charge alleging misconduct.

A jury was deliberating on the evidence presented during its week-long trial when Jones decided on November 15 to plead guilty and resign. Guest judge Katherine Lumsden sentenced him to five years in prison, one to serve, and a $1,000 fine.

Jones is serving his sentence in a medium-security prison where he asked the Georgia Supreme Court on January 27 to let him voluntarily give up his license to practice law, which he admitted was “equivalent to disbarment.” .

This story was originally published March 17, 2022 1:25 p.m.

Tim Chitwood is from Seale, Alabama, and started as a police reporter with the Ledger-Enquirer in 1982. Since then, he has covered serial killings and other Columbus homicides, following some from the crime scene to to the verdicts of the trial and subsequent appeals. . He has also been a humor columnist for Ledger-Enquirer since 1987. He graduated from Auburn University and started working for the weekly Phenix Citizen in Phenix City, Ala.

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