In an impassioned and sometimes emotional speech, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston took to the well of the House Monday morning to address his fellow lawmakers over accusations that he’s abused a law that allows attorneys in the Legislature to delay court cases.
A resolution was filed by Buford Republican Rep. David Clark last week, with ten others signing on, calling for Ralston’s resignation after an investigation by WSB TV and the AJC found more than 50 cases over the past two years have been delayed for clients he represents.
“An examination of all the facts, causes me to reject in the strongest possible way, any accusation that I’ve abused or misused my position,” says Ralston.
He says many of those cases were postponed due to judges’ or prosecutors’ calendars and not at his request. He also maintains more cases were concluded than were postponed during that time.
Ralston blames the effort to oust him on Clark’s possible run for the 7th Congressional District.
But he says because of the concern for the victims of those crimes, he will form a bi-partisan advisory panel to look at Georgia’s legislative leave law and recommend any changes based on other states with part-time legislators.
“This group will consist of legislators, judges, prosecutors, victim advocates, other members of the legal community and lay people,” he says.
Ralston also vows to take no new criminal cases until the four high-profile ones he’s a part of have been concluded.
At the end of his 20-minute speech, Ralston was given a standing ovation by House members.
So far Clark has rejected requests to comment by reporters.
But Rep. Colton Moore (R-Trenton), who was among the signers on the bill, doesn’t buy Ralston’s contentions that he’s done nothing wrong.
“Either he recuse himself from all of the cases that he’s taken on that are in question, or resign as Speaker and go take care of justice for himself,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
But Moore says he is in favor of changes to the legislative leave law.
“At least a law that would mean the Speaker would have to give more of a reason other than just, ‘Sorry I’m not able to make it’,” he says.