Georgia House speaker accused of delaying court for clients

Posted at 2:40 PM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 14:40:59-05

ATLANTA (AP) — One of Georgia's most powerful lawmakers is accused of using his office to delay court cases for criminal defendants he represented as an attorney.

An investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV found House Speaker David Ralston asked judges to reschedule court proceedings 57 times over a two-year period. They reported the Republican from Blue Ridge delayed cases for clients charged with child molestation, child cruelty and assault.

Georgia law requires judges to reschedule hearings that conflict with legislative duties of attorneys who are lawmakers. Ralston says the law "protects the independence of the legislative branch of state government."

One Ralston client charged with DUI has had his case pending for more than a decade. Another charged with enticing a child for indecent purposes has been awaiting trial since 2009.