Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds confirmed to Law.com last week that a criminal investigation into Howard now includes grand jury subpoenas he issued in the Brooks case — despite the fact that a grand jury had not been impaneled since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Howard attempted to subpoena records related to a use of force investigation against former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, whom Howard charged with felony murder in the Brooks case.
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Howard told the Daily Report on Wednesday his office “proactively” sent grand jury subpoenas “in the hopes” that a grand jury would convene once the current statewide judicial emergency expires Sunday. Earlier this week, the chief justice announced he will extend the judicial emergency and continue grand jury suspensions through Aug. 12.
On Thursday, Howard issued a second statement blaming the investigator who sent the subpoena for Rolfe’s police records, saying he “was under the impression that the March/April grand jury was still impaneled” even though it had been discharged. Howard said his staff will suspend issuing future grand jury subpoenas until grand juries are impaneled, and that he has withdraw the subpoena seeking Rolfe’s records.
Gable Cino, a law professor at Georgia State University, told WAGA-TV Howard’s alleged actions have both ethical and potentially criminal implications.
“It would be a violation of criminal law to make a knowingly false statement or misrepresentation in the subpoena which is a document that has been issued,” Cino explained.
According to Cino, prosecutorial misconduct could result in the high-profile Brooks case being dismissed.
The expanded investigation into Howard reportedly came at the request of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
According to WAGA, the GBI was already investigating Howard for a “mysterious salary supplement” negotiated between Howard and former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The case reportedly focuses on payments made to a nonprofit organization ran by Howard that he allegedly used to supplement his salary.