Several court cases have conflicts of interest in Columbus District Attorney’s Office

“This is what Richard’s life meant to our Justice system.”
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 8:04 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A night from 2016 still lingers heavily for two families in our area.

They, like several others, are still waiting by the phone for news to help bring them justice while court delays continue in Columbus and other parts of Georgia.

With recent changes in the district attorney’s office and past circumstances, a high number of court cases are stuck in limbo for now.

According to Chief Judge Gil McBride, since former District Attorney Mark Jones found himself behind bars, and Stacey Jackson took his job, 157 cases within the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit can not be prosecuted by anyone in that office due to a conflict of interest.

Something the judge says is not uncommon to see when a private practice attorney switches sides. However, of that 157, 19 are attributed to Mark Jones’ brief term in office, where he was imprisoned for ethics violations and corruption charges.

Judge McBride said, “I do know of specific instances where as long as he was the district attorney and no district attorney had been appointed to replace him, there was a lingering appearance of a conflict.”

They are at a standstill until the attorney general’s office can assign a special prosecutor to the cases.

Among that 19, you’ll find both the Collier and Johnson families. Their story starts in 2016 when a house party turned fatal, intertwined their lives forever.

Police say at that party on Warm Springs Road is where now 32-year-old Drevon Johnson gunned down 23-year-old Richard Collier.

Since then the case has first gone to trial last year and ended in a deadlocked jury -- leaning towards Johnson being found not guilty.

“I trust and have faith my son will come home.”, said Johnson’s mother ,who did not want to be identified due to threats she has received stemming from the case. “She is not looking at the evidence that was presented, even the tactics that mark jones used. Get him back to trial. 8 not guilty and four guilty speaks volumes.”

“He’s never once spoke and said, oh I didn’t do this. He’s never said anything at all.”, said Celeste Collier, Richard Collier’s sister. “This is what Richard’s life meant to our Justice system.”

There’s no telling how long it could take for those cases on hold to be assigned a special prosecutor.

Court officials told News Leader 9 the Georgia Attorney General’s office is stretched even thinner due to several district attorney’s being convicted across the state.

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