YARBROUGH COLUMN: What’s behind Fulton DA’s investigation of Trump?

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Antonio Brown, 23, was recently indicted for the brutal stabbing and killing of 77-year-old Ellen Bowles last December inside a gated community in Northside Atlanta. He faces a host of felony charges in connection with that horrific event.

Chances are it will be a long time before his case is ever adjudicated. While it is said the wheels of justice grind slowly, they have pretty much ground to a halt in Fulton County.

There are currently 15 judges in Fulton County that handle the majority of criminal cases. As of this writing, there are more than 4,000 pending felony cases. That’s an average of almost 300 per judge! There are 484 criminal cases that include murder charges, an average of nine per judge. In addition, there are some 268 cases involving sex crime charges. That is an average of 18 per judge. Cases affecting what’s known as the Seven Deadly Charges – murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and aggravated sexual battery – number 881, or 59 per judge.

That means if, starting next week, one pending felony case could be disposed of every week for 52 straight weeks by each judge and that no new cases appeared on their dockets (an impossibility, of course), it would take five years to clear their calendars.

Beyond the cold statistics is the human toll being exacted on impacted family members, friends and victims awaiting justice and wondering when or if they are ever going to get their day in court.

That’s because Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is busy at the moment investigating Donald Trump and his allies for trying to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

Most everyone knows I am not a Donald Trump fan, but I think the special grand jury that Willis convened last May is a waste of taxpayer dollars and that any perceived electoral misdeeds on the part of the former president and his supporters should be the responsibility of federal authorities, not Fulton County.

From the outset, I have viewed this investigation with suspicion. I have wondered what is behind the DA’s motivation, if not to position herself on a national stage, raise her profile and enhance future political aspirations.

The first alarm went off when Willis subpoenaed current Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, one of the 16 Trump electors who signed on to an “unofficial electorate certificate” in an effort to undo the Electoral College vote in the 2020 election. This, after she had held a fundraiser for Jones’ Democratic opponent prior to the election and had donated money to his primary campaign earlier in the year.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who oversaw the special grand jury proceedings, criticized Willis for hosting the fundraiser and called it a “What are you thinking moment,” and added, “The optics are horrific.”

So, too, I suspect, are the costs of the special grand jury to Fulton County citizens. Many of the witnesses were flown in at taxpayer expense. Court insiders who tell me that Willis insists on being addressed as Madam District Attorney also say she has availed herself of bodyguards, publicists and even stylists. Who is paying for that?

Whatever significance the special grand jury may have had with me vanished like the morning dew when the foreperson, 30-year-old Emily Kohrs, made herself known to the world. Who let her loose and why are a mystery to me. Her inane comments and goofy facial expressions even got her lampooned on “Saturday Night Live.”

Kohrs admits she has never voted but leans Democratic, is “between jobs,” (i.e. unemployed) and is fascinated with witchcraft and the occult. Just what you want as the face of this special grand jury. In one media interview she admitted she thought it “cool” that she swore in a witness while holding a popsicle. Is this a great country, or what?

In my opinion, Emily Kohr’s clownish performance has seriously impacted the integrity of the special grand jury’s efforts and made it look like The Original Amateur Hour. Some legal experts think her comments could jeopardize the DA’s case against Trump. She may turn out to be Donald Trump’s best defense.

In the meantime, Fulton County judges are waiting on Fani Willis to get back to work prosecuting the hundreds of felony cases awaiting trial. It may be mundane stuff after basking in the national spotlight, but it is what she was elected to do and should be doing. Ask the victims and their families.