Local News

6/25/2012

DA candidate sparring heats up

By LOUIE BROGDON

The Brunswick News

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.

The race pits incumbent Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson against former assistant district attorney Jonathan Miller.

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.

Miller accused Johnson of mismanaging the office by running off veteran attorneys -- including him -- and hiring inexperienced lawyers in their places.

In response, after having previously said that personnel cuts were made for fiscal reasons, Johnson alluded that some prosecutors, including Miller, were released because of "performance issues."

At their second public appearance together, Johnson told the Camden County Republicans, which hosted the candidate forum, that Miller had authorized the release of a defendant in an aggravated stalking case without notifying the victim in the case.

She said Miller also had improperly intervened in a Camden County case while assigned to the Glynn County office to allow a convicted sex offender to live near a church.

"I asked for an explanation on both of those cases," Johnson told the audience, according to a video recording of the forum. "I haven't gotten it. I did get a resignation letter (from Miller)."

Miller said Johnson was misrepresenting the issues in both cases and said she was attacking him.

In the case of the aggravated stalking case, Miller said he had previously spoken with the victim and had planned to have the man released to his mother in North Carolina, hundreds of miles away. Because of a ticket mix up at the bus station and a series of miscommunications, the man was rearrested before leaving the state.

In the sex offender case, Miller said he had only made a suggestion to the man's defense attorney because the sex offender was staying at the house to care for an 85-year-old man who was bed ridden.

Neither offender was identified.

"Nothing ever happened on that case that I directly had a hand in," Miller said.

Miller said Thursday he had hoped to keep the campaign respectable.

Johnson said she wasn't seeking a caustic campaign either, but she wanted to make sure voters knew the facts.

"From my point of view, everything revolves around what is true. I think (in Camden) I got an opportunity to get out on a public forum and set the record straight," Johnson said.

There is no Democratic opposition in the race. Unless an independent candidate qualifies for the race by Aug. 3, the contest will be decided at the Republican primary.