By Kathy Jefcoats
The Clayton County district attorney has taken action to circumvent a recent Georgia Court of Appeals ruling against using a special purpose grand jury for criminal indictments.
Tracy Graham Lawson Wednesday re-indicted former sheriff's spokesman Jonathan Newton and former Morrow City Manager, and announced mayoral candidate John Lampl on all charges she previously presented to a special grand jury in their separate, unrelated cases.
Newton was indicted May 20 by a special purpose grand jury on forgery and theft charges relating to his job under former sheriff Victor Hill. The indictment alleges he stole county funds for his personal use.
Lampl, first indicted June 24, is accused of 16 counts of making false statements and perjury in connection with the Olde Towne Morrow project. Lampl's next court appearance is July 21.
Newton filed a motion Monday to have his 11-count indictment thrown out based on the July 6 ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals. That ruling affects the indictment by a special grand jury of a former Gwinnett County commissioner as presented by Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter.
Newton's motion reiterates that the ruling limits the powers of special purpose grand juries to investigations and issuance of subpoenas. Lawson said the defense motion was expected. However, she anticipates the higher court's ruling will not stand.
"I understand Danny Porter is going to file a motion of consideration," she said. "If that is not granted, he will file an appeal and I believe he will be successful in getting it reversed."
Newton's motion to dismiss is one of several expected to be heard today in Judge Al Collier's courtroom. Newton also filed motions for discovery and to suppress evidence seized from his home. The motion alleges that officers took a computer and other items but did not provide him with an inventory. Newton states he is unaware of what was taken.
The computer was returned the next day, to Newton's wife, but the police did not provide her a list of what files were copied or deleted, the motion alleges.
Newton also wants police to provide a copy of the statement he made to them after his arrest.
Newton is being represented by Constance Manigo Daise. Local attorney Keith Martin was also briefly co-counsel. However, he withdrew Monday after Lawson filed a motion to disqualify him because of a conflict of interest. Martin represents another former sheriff's employee, Beatrice Powell, in a civil service board appeal to get her job back.
Newton worked under Hill as his spokesman and was in charge of his newsletter, "The Star." Lawson alleges that Newton, who also published his own now-defunct newspaper, had a scheme to transfer county funds earmarked for the newsletter for his own use.