Georgia Governor Nathan Deal will not appoint a panel to consider the suspension of newly re-elected Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill.
Hill is under indictment and facing 37 counts that include racketeering, theft by taking, lying, influencing a witness and violation of oath of office.
According to Governor Deal, appointing a panel would be in violation of the law.
That Georgia Law according to Deal spokesperson Brian Robinson states the governor must appoint a three-member panel to investigate the indictment of a public official.
But in this case says Robinson, “Sheriff Hill was indicted while a as private citizen and he was elected by the people of Clayton County who were fully aware of the facts.”
While the language of the law is clear says WABE legal analyst Page Pate, the governor’s interpretation is not.
“There’s nothing in the statue to indicate that it matters when the public official was indicted because the whole point of this statue is to protect people in that particular county from having a sheriff who is currently under criminal indictment holding his office.”
Because Victor Hill is now a public official and the indictment could harmfully affect Hill’s administration of office, Pate says the governor is not violating any law.
“So I think by the plain clear language of the statue, the governor should appoint a panel and the panel needs to review the indictment to see if it affects adversely the ability of him to do his job while the case is pending. I do not understand the interpretation coming from the governor’s office.”
When asked if Governor Deal thought Sheriff Hill should suspend himself, spokesperson Brian Robinson said that was not the state’s business.
As for another course of action to challenge the governor’s decision, Page Pate says there is another option.
There is the possibility that someone or a group of people could seek help from the courts.
It’s called a writ of mandamus, which says Pate, would force the governor to comply with the plain language of the statue.
However, that would be difficult to prove says Pate, because basically you’re alleging the Governor is not doing his job.
Victor Hill goes to trial in February.