The two Republicans seeking to capture the office of Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney for the next four years say they will be glad when all of the campaigning is behind them.
"Whatever the result, I'm happy to be done with it," District Attorney Jackie Johnson said Tuesday during an appearance with her challenger, Jonathan Miller, at a meeting of the Brunswick Kiwanis Club at the Brunswick Country Club. "It's going to be a relief to me to get back into the courtroom and doing the things I need to be doing."
Miller, said he too is ready to see an end to campaign politics. "I just want it done and over with," Miller said.
Whoever wins will coast to victory in November, absent an unexpected independent candidate emerging, as no Democrat is seeking the office.
The appearance of Johnson and Miller together was noticeably tame compared to previous months of campaigning.
By LOUIE BROGDON
Most races in the July 31 primaries and special elections have been tame compared to the race for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office.
The Republican primary pits incumbent District Attorney Jackie Johnson against Jonathan Miller, a former employee of the office who resigned in March after Johnson questioned him about his actions in two cases.
One case involved an aggravated stalking defendant who was released without giving his victim notice. The other involved Miller allegedly trying to allow a sex offender to live near a church in Camden County. Miller has denied wrong-doing in both cases.
Johnson has not held a full term because she was appointed in 2010 by former Gov. Sonny Perdue after Stephen Kelley was robed as a superior court judge.
Jackie Johnson (i)
In Glynn County: Began working in Glynn office for district attorney 12 years ago
Occupation: District attorney
Relationship status: Single
The shooting death of a Brunswick woman by Glynn County police two years ago was one of the main topics during a candidates' forum Monday at the College of Coastal Georgia.
Miller said he would have recused the office and let another prosecutor handle the case in the shooting death of Caroline Small.
Small, 35, was shot by police June 18, 2010, after she led them on a 30-minute, low-speed chase from Glynn Place Mall to the Wavely Pines subdivision. She was shot when attempting to drive free of patrol cars, which had hemmed her Buick Century in against a telephone pole.
"Those are the kind of mistakes that should not have happened," Miller said of Johnson failing to recuse herself and other prosecutors in the office.
Johnson, however, said a grand jury looked at the evidence and ruled the shooting was justified. She said she even had Rick Currie, the district attorney in the Waycross Judicial Circuit, look at the case to ensure it was handled properly.
Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney candidate Jonathan Miller says allegations that he tried to help a sex offender live near a church in Camden County have been exaggerated by his opponent.
Incumbent District Attorney Jackie Johnson told a group of Camden County Republicans June 16 that before Miller resigned as an assistant district attorney in March, she asked him for an explanation of why convicted sex offender Larry Jerod Oats had told a Camden County sheriff deputy that Miller had told Oats he could live within 1,000 feet of a church, even though it was against state sex offender laws.
Oats became a sex offender in January after he pleaded guilty to statutory rape for having sexual relations in September 2010 with a girl who was younger than 16 when he was 21.
Instead of giving an explanation of the case, and another involving the release of an alleged stalker, Miller resigned as an assistant district attorney.
Miller said Wednesday his involvement in the Oats case has been embellished.
A contest that began with mild political sniping between the two Republicans vying for district attorney is getting ugly, one of the candidates for office says.
Miller said Johnson accused him of trying to helping a sex offender during a recent forum in Camden County.
"I have tried to articulate the differences between us without being ugly. In Camden County, it got ugly," Miller said.
It started when Miller accused Johnson of mismanaging the district attorney's office. Johnson returned fire, telling a group of Republicans that Miller broke the law, violated his oath of office and breached state bar rules before he resigned as an assistant district attorney.
Miller had fired the first shot earlier in the month during an appearance before the Golden Isles Republican Women on St. Simons Island. He said several attorneys had left the Glynn County district attorney office since Johnson was appointed to the post by former Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2010.
Incumbent Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson will seek to keep her office in the July 31 Republican primary.
Before Johnson was appointed, she was an assistant district attorney for 12 years and has handled more than 2,000 criminal cases in the circuit's five counties of Glynn, Camden, Wayne, Appling and Jeff Davis.
Since becoming district attorney, Johnson has overseen 35 employees in four offices throughout the circuit and administered a caseload of about 4,000 cases a year, according to a campaign statement.
Her chief goals as district attorney have included making the office more fiscally efficient, addressing jail overcrowding and improving working relations with law enforcement, she said.
"The district attorney's office is working more closely with law enforcement to build and prosecute solid criminal cases against dangerous offenders; moving criminal cases to court more quickly to reduce jail populations and save tax dollars; and operating more efficiently on a reduced staff," Johnson said.
A former assistant district attorney is entering the race to become the circuit's next lead prosecutor.
Miller will be running against his former boss, District Attorney Jackie Johnson, who was appointed to the office by Gov. Nathan Deal.
Miller started at the Glynn County District Attorney's Office in 2005, under now Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley, after closing his small business.
"I went to law school at 38 to become a 40-year-old rookie attorney. I saw the changes in the mortgage industry in 2000, and though I was a little early, I decided to become a lawyer," Miller said.
Miller initially thought he was going to have a career in property law but took his first job with the district attorney's office and stayed.