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Ga. House Speaker faces mounting pressure to resign
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Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, shown addressing local law enforcement, school officials and members of the House of Representatives on May 14, 2018 in Dawson County during the first House Study Committee on School Security meeting, is facing criticism over his use of legislative leave to delay court cases. - Photo by Jessica Taylor
Ga. Speaker of the House David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, is facing mounting criticism from both sides of the aisle over his use of legislative leave to delay court cases. At an April 17 press conference in Atlanta, State Rep. David Clark, R-Buford, and former FBI agent Derek Somerville presented research in which Somerville documented 1,091 separate legislative leave continuances across 279 cases. A legislative leave continuance is a court order that a lawyer who also serves in the legislature can apply for when his or her legislative duties conflict with scheduled court appearances. According to Somerville, 53% of Ralston’s continuances were applied for when the State House of Representatives was not in session. “Last year,” calculated Somerville, “after taking no less than 89 days of legislative leave outside of the general and special session, and after accounting for state holidays, Speaker Ralston left himself with only 87 working days and only three intact weeks (full 5-day weeks) to accommodate court orders to appear, to respond to discovery requests, and generally to tend to his case load obligations.”