Columbus Candidate for District Attorney Arrested on Felony and Misdemeanor Charges

Arrest warrants, both felony and misdemeanor, have been issued for Columbus attorney Mark Jones who is challenging current District Attorney Julia Slater. Jones turned himself in today, going live on Facebook sporting a bulletproof vest because “as we know, the police are trigger happy these days and I don’t want to get shot.”

Over the weekend, Jones made a campaign commercial on city property in Columbus with two volunteers who were videoed making doughnuts in the parking lot of the Civic Center, which according to a press release from the Columbus Police Department caused considerable damage. In his facebook video on his way to the Columbus Police Department, Jones likens the two men who were arrested to the Freedom Riders and calls them heroes. He also continuously says he is headed to the Muscogee County Jail, as well as Recorders Court. He remarks that because D.A. Slater has recused herself and her office from the case, the Georgia Attorney General has been brought in and will assign someone to the case, but that the AG should “dismiss the case all together” leading one to wonder if the candidate understands the legal system he claims to represent.

Jones was met by local media and followed by a campaign worker as he walked towards the Columbus Police Department (sans bulletproof vest). He continues to campaign as he walks, referring to his intent to “free the green” and decriminalize marijuana in Columbus. You can hear him remarking that he “hasn’t been indicted yet”, after a string of insults towards the D.A.’s office and Columbus Law Enforcement.

No permits were issued to allow the candidate to use city property. “Nobody had been notified with the city,” Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson told the Columbus Ledger Inquirer. “What they did was destroy government property.” You can see the commercial below.

Current D.A. Julia Slater released the following statement via Facebook:

First, I would like to apologize for the very long post, but I felt compelled to speak the truth. It has come to my attention that my opponent has made certain allegations against me regarding the arrest of two young men who participated in his campaign video. I would like to provide accurate information about this situation.

I was not consulted nor was I aware of the charges against these two young men. The arrest of these men was as much of a surprise to me as it was to the general public. I am rarely consulted on cases under investigation and I have never been consulted on an interference with government property case or a criminal damage to property case. I was not consulted on this case. Additionally, I have not been consulted regarding any potential future arrests.

When I heard arrests had been made on a case stemming from a campaign video published by my opponent, I contacted the assistant district attorney who represents the state in recorder’s court and advised him we have conflict on this case and he should not represent the state. It would be an ethical violation for me or anyone in my office to be involved in this case. The assistant district attorney had nothing to do with the bond decision on this case. I had nothing to do with the bond decision in this case. I would not normally be contacted about a bond in recorder’s court and I was not consulted by Judge Cooley on the bond decision in this case.

The only decision I have made on this case is that my office has a conflict and will not be prosecuting the case. It is important to understand the district attorney has no power to reduce bonds. And because it would be an ethical violation for me to be involved in the case, I am not even permitted to request an adjustment of the bonds on these young men.

I understand many citizens are not aware of the workings of the judicial system. I hope this will clear up some misconceptions about the system in general and this case specifically.

Additionally, Jones was arrested for DUI in November, his second over the past several years. Jones thanks Progressive Insurance for defending him in November and blames the first DUI on a “bitter divorce.”

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