ATLANTA — A former FBI agent says House Speaker Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) has delayed more than a thousand legal cases in north Georgia since 2010. Ralston, an attorney in private practice, admits he’s delayed cases using the state's "legislative leave" law, but says he has done nothing illegal or unethical.
In February, 11Alive's check of records in Gilmer County alone found Ralston had requested 202 postponements in 19 criminal cases. Each time, he cited a Georgia law giving precedence to his legislative duties.
Former FBI agent Derek Somerville he says spent weeks, at his own behest, compiling documents in Ralston’s court cases.
He says he checked in eight north Georgia counties and found Ralston requested 1091 legislative leave continuances, affecting 279 civil and criminal cases. The majority of them - 577 - he said, were for cases scheduled outside of the actual legislative calendar, plus the three weeks after adjournment.
"The audacity of him to take the justice system into his own hands and just put people off for years," said Sheryl Shinn, who said Ralston has delayed her civil case against her former business partner for 12 years.
"There is no case anymore. Exactly what Ralston set out to do, he did to me," Shinn said. "(Ralston's client) swindled me for the business. I ended up going bankrupt over it. And I haven’t been able to recover."
Somerville said Ralston abused his power by using it to keep his clients out of court for years.
"There are victims of horrific crimes who have completely lost faith in our system of justice because of the actions of one man," Somerville said.
Ralston s aid he’s done nothing wrong and was dismissive of the new analysis of his courtroom cases, saying “the guy who’s paying for all this probably should demand his money back.”
Shinn said it actually condemns the House Speaker’s behavior.
"He really needs to be held accountable for this," she said, shaking. "I’m furious. I’m absolutely furious."
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