By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — Defense attorneys for Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill want the elected district attorney officially removed from case proceedings.
Also, a state motion filed June 13 asks that Leon County, Fla., law enforcement officials subpoena witness Naomi Simone Nash to appear in Clayton County Superior Court during the week of Hill's trial. The order, signed by trial Judge Albert Collier, asks that Nash appear Aug. 8 and remain available until Aug. 16.
Jury selection is to begin Aug. 5. Attorneys will be in court Friday for a status hearing on the trial.
Hill was sheriff from 2005 to 2008, when he lost a bid for re-election. In January 2012, he was indicted on 37 felony counts related mostly to alleged wrongdoings during that first term. His attorneys got Collier to drop five of the counts months later. He re-took office in January while under that same indictment.
The alleged charges against Hill include theft, racketeering, lying, influencing a witness and violation of the oath of public office.
Layla Zon, district attorney of the Alcovy Circuit, was appointed special prosecutor but Hill's attorneys want Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson officially removed from the case. Their motion, filed June 13, asks Collier to recuse her from any further involvement.
"Defense counsel recognizes that (Lawson) has taken the initiative to step-aside from this matter and has stated to the media, on numerous occasions, that she has recused herself from the prosecution of this case," the motion states. "Toward that end, she has brought in an outside prosecutor (Zon). However, no formal recusal for (Lawson) appears to have been filed in the case."
Lawson said Monday it would be unethical of her to comment on the motion.
Hill attorneys allege Lawson has an actual conflict in that she is listed as a potential state witness.
"(Lawson) cannot both prosecute this case and be a witness for the State without creating a conflict," the motion argues.
Hill’s attorneys Steven Frey, Drew Findling, Marissa Goldberg and Musa Ghanayem assert they have approached Zon and Lawson about a potential conflict.
"The State indicated that they do not believe that there is a conflict at this time," states the motion.
Nash worked under Hill during 2005-2008. Hill's campaign reports show he paid Nash $15,000 and listed her as his campaign manager. She was jailed in September 2011 for contempt of court for allegedly refusing to testify before a Clayton County grand jury investigating Hill prior to his indictment.
Hill was indicted for allegedly using campaign funds for his personal use. Specifically, Hill is charged with paying Nash $15,000 from his campaign account purportedly for her services as his campaign manager. But prosecutors allege that most of the money was returned to Hill after the funds were deposited and then withdrawn from Nash's personal account. The indictment alleges he took $22,000 in campaign funds from Aug. 14, 2008, to Nov. 17, 2008.
Nash eventually testified before the grand jury, reportedly giving evidence against Hill. Hill's indictment includes a charge he tried to influence Nash in September 2011 to not testify against him before a special grand jury.