DECATUR, Ga. -- The attorney for a local sheriff accused of exposing himself to an officer in a neighboring county and then fleeing says the governor has no right to have him investigated.
DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann is accused of indecency and obstruction during a May 6 incident near Piedmont Park. Mann was accused of exposing himself and making an inappropriate motion toward an officer. When he was confronted, a police report stated he ran.
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Governor Nathan Deal later appointed a committee to investigate Mann. But the sheriff's attorney has since released a letter he sent to Deal saying that move was not authorized.
Attorney Noah H. Pines gave three reasons why an investigation into his client isn't justified or allowed under Georgia law. Pines originally said the charges against Mann were for violation of city ordinance and not criminal. As such, he said state law didn't allow the governor to get involved. Pines said Deal later rescinded the order putting an new one in place - this one claiming the investigation is for "criminal charges, alleged misconduct in office, or alleged incapacity of the sheriff to perform the functions of his office."
But Pines said the additional words don't change the governor's rights in calling for the investigation. Pines said a "common sense definition" of misconduct in office would require Mann to have performed misconduct in his official capacity as sheriff and that a city ordinance violation while not working doesn't fit this. He added that the state Supreme Court supports this understanding quoting previous cases.
Pines also said that while not defined in Georgia law, the idea of incapacity of the sheriff to perform the functions of office requires signs of physical or mental inability to perform one's duties. Pines said there are no such allegations against his client.
Pines goes on to request that Governor Deal rescind his order to have Mann investigated. Deal appointed a committee of Attorney General Chris Carr, Sheriff Ezell Brown and Sheriff Terry Deese to investigate Mann's actions earlier in May.