Commissioner Arrington Responds to Rep.-elect Mainor, APN Reporting
(APN) ATLANTA — Fulton Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr., (District 5) responded to an article appearing in the Atlanta Progressive News regarding an ethics complaint and bar complaint filed against him by State Rep.-elect Mesha Mainor (D-Atlanta).
Commissioner Arrington, Jr. told APN he was “completely shocked to learn that Rep.-elect Mainor has filed an ethics and bar complaint against me. Both claims are completely frivolous.”
To date, Arrington still has not received notification of the complaints from the County or the Georgia Bar, he said.
“This letter will acknowledge the Board’s receipt of your November 9, 2020 Complaint submitted to the Fulton County Board of Ethics pertaining to Fulton County Commissioner and Vice Chair of Board of Commissioners Marvin Arrington,” Board of Ethics Chair Benjamin E. Fox wrote.
The Board had not received her original complaint as of Nov. 09, so she re-sent her complaint.
“Your request will be reviewed by the Board within the requisite sixty (60) days, and you will be notified within that time-frame of the results of their review,” Fox wrote.
At issue in both complaints are Arrington’s representation of Corwin Monson.
Arrington is representing Monson in a criminal defense matter where Monson has been found to have violated restraining orders that Rep.-elect Mainor obtained against him.
MARVIN ARRINGTON DEFENDS HIS LAW PRACTICE
As previously reported by APN, Rep.-elect Mainor has alleged that Arrington has a conflict of interest representing clients in Fulton County courts where he also serves as a Commissioner, particularly because he has a role in setting the courts’ budget and approving a supplement to judges’ salaries.
Rep.-Mainor alleges that Arrington went over the Assistant District Attorney’s head to District Attorney Paul Howard to obtain a favorable plea deal that he had attempted to seek for Monson; and that, in doing so, he leveraged his influence as Commissioner.
“As an attorney, I always have the right to approach the elected District Attorney in any county about any case where I represent a criminal defendant,” Arrington wrote in a comment posted on the APN website.
“If I had any special influence, it must not have worked because my client went to jail,” Arrington added in an interview, referring to Mr. Monson.
“One of the things that is frustrating, working with the Fulton County DA’s office, the [assistant] DA’s in the courtroom are not given the authority to negotiate deals – you have to go to Paul Howard,” he said.
“I have a right to earn a living as a lawyer. I will vehemently and ferociously protect my right to earn a living. This is how I feed and care for my family,” Arrington wrote in response.
As previously reported, in 2017, three Fulton County Superior Court Judges recused themselves from a civil matter where Arrington was representing one of the parties.
Arrington told Atlanta Progressive News that then-Judge Fulton County Superior Court Judge Todd Markle, in the same matter, wrote that he did not agree with the decision of the three other judges as to the necessity to recuse.
Arrington also pointed to a Supreme Court of Georgia’s adoption of a Formal Advisory Opinion, 05-12, which addressed a similar situation, where a member of the Atlanta City Council was defending a client before Atlanta’s Municipal Courts.
“Representation of a criminal defendant in municipal court by a member of the City Council where the City Council controls salary and benefits for the police, implicates Rule 3.5(a), which prohibits attorneys from seeking to influence officials by means prohibited by law,” the Advisory Opinion states.
“In any circumstance where the representation may create an appearance of impropriety it should be avoided,” the Advisory Opinion states.
Arrington notes that the opinion states: “The mere fact of representation of a criminal defendant by an attorney who is a member of the City Council… does not, by itself, establish a violation of Rule 3.5(a). To establish a violation, there must be a showing that the attorney sought to exercise influence in a manner prohibited by law.”
However the opinion also states: “We note, however, that… ‘The activity… should be observed by the advocate in such a careful manner that there be no appearance of impropriety.’ Pursuant to Rule 3.5, therefore, an attorney should not represent a criminal defendant where an inference of improper influence can reasonably be drawn.”
This is not the first time Arrington has been in the spotlight for a potential conflict of interest.
On March 25, 2020, Fox 5 Atlanta television news ran a story regarding Mr. Arrington’s ability to obtain an extraordinary bond hearing for his client, even when Fulton County Courthouse was closed due to the SARS-2 a/k/a COVID-19 pandemic.
“For him to have a hearing here today, it’s just unbelievable. Except for the fact of who represents him,” attorney Precious Anderson told Fox 5 at the time.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rachel Krause said during the hearing that the hearing itself was an unusual procedure and that she had cancelled an earlier hearing because of fears of a packed courthouse, according to footage and reporting by Fox 5.
Commissioner Arrington criticized the three judges who recused themselves from the tort case in 2017.
“Those judges wouldn’t dare do that to [House Speaker] David Ralson, or [former State Rep.] Wendell Willard, so why are they picking on Marvin Arrington, Jr.?” he said.
“The client has a right to the attorney of his choice. I have a right to earn a living,” Arrington said.
“Don’t we want people from different backgrounds serving in the Legislature? How do we get to limit who can run to be a legislator?” he asked.
MONSON’S WIFE RESPONDS TO ARTICLE
Alisha Monson, Corwin Monson’s wife, called APN, distressed about APN’s reporting and about what she believes to be unfair treatment of her husband, who is currently in jail for violation of the restraining order obtained by State Rep.-elect Mesha Mainor.
Monson emphasized she was speaking on her own behalf, and not her husband.
In 2019, when APN reported on anti-White, anti-gay graffiti in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood, Corwin Monson fanned the flames with homophobic comments posted to social media.
“Stay woke. This is why we need real leadership to stand up to the gay confederacy. MAKE ATLANTA STRAIGHT AGAIN!!” Corwin Monson wrote at the time.
For further clarity, he opined: “The Gay Confederates are the white people who are gentrifying the neighborhood and using the lgbtq community as it’s [sic] weapon of mass destruction of the black community. The victoryfund.org is funding this attack along with the Log Cabin Republicans of Buckhead.”
Apparently, the Atlanta Police Department investigated the matter following the APN story, which was picked up by Project Q Atlanta and prompted involvement by the Office of Councilman Antonio Brown (District 3).
Mrs. Monson provided APN with an email from an APD investigator dated September 04, 2020, showing that while he had been investigated for possible hate crimes in connection with the graffiti, that he had been cleared for lack of evidence.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2020)