Judge to order outcome of hearing involving assistant D.A.’s DUI case

Published 8:41 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lowndes County State Court Judge Kelly D. Turner will have up to 10 days to determine the results of a hearing for Mike Bankston, South Georgia Judicial Circuit assistant district attorney and superior court judge candidate, who was arrested on DUI charges in December 2015.

The hearing was held Tuesday at the Mitchell County Courthouse, where prosecutor Chuck Spahos of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia and Bankston’s defense attorneys Ken Hodges and Jay Brimberry argued there was no probable cause to move forward with the case.

Spahos presented an administrative dismissal verbally identical to the one filed on Feb. 16 claiming there was not sufficient evidence to convict Bankston as charged.

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Bainbridge attorney Gilbert Murrah filed a motion to appear as friend to the court and a brief for amicus curiae, a document filed by someone who is part of neither party in a case but believes they can offer relevant information. Murrah is not a part of the case, but filed the motion and the brief to express concerns with the legal process and its potential outcomes.

Turner said she would reach a decision within 10 days, where she will determine if there is a case or not, sign the administrative dismissal or order to continue the case with a trial.

“The hearing today was by no means necessary, however, it was a great opportunity for our justice system to go above and beyond to illustrate this case has been fully & fairly vetted in a courtroom, open to the public and the press,” Bankston said. “I’m looking forward to the judge confirming what law enforcement and an independent prosecutor has already concluded, on the record, which is I was not at fault and no wrong doing occurred.”

Murrah also submitted to Turner a statute and two cases supporting the rule that a case can’t be administratively dismissed without the consent of court, a process that Bankston’s defense and Spahos are arguing is unnecessary to close the case.

“Bankston had 3 lawyers in the room: the two representing him and the prosecutor,” Murrah said. “I don’t think a candidate for judge should be above the law if he is going to enforce the law.”

According to a Georgia State Patrol crash report, on Dec. 16, 2015, at 2:15 a.m., Bankston was traveling west on Georgia 93 in Baconton and was given a green light to cross Georgia 300. A semi-truck driving north on 300 attempted to beat a red light and sped through the intersection. The front of Bankston’s vehicle T-boned the side of the truck. Bankston was arrested under the charge of driving under the influence, the report states. Neither driver was injured in the crash.