Leslie M. Donaho will serve as City Solicitor. (City of Sandy Springs)
SANDY SPRINGS, GA — During its May 7 meeting, the Sandy Springs City Council approved a contract selecting Donaho Law, LLC as Solicitor for Sandy Springs Municipal Court. Sandy Springs Municipal Court hears cases pertaining to violations of traffic laws, local ordinance and some State misdemeanors. A Request for Proposals was issued in February, with five firms qualifying for consideration.
Leslie M. Donaho will serve as City Solicitor. Donaho is an accomplished attorney specializing in criminal law. She served as prosecutor in both city and county courts prior to opening her own criminal defense firm in 2016. She has added expertise in diversion programs, mental health and drug accountability courts.
"The competitive bid process provided the city with the opportunity to take a close look at current operations and identify opportunities to enhance services and efficiencies," Sandy Springs City Attorney Dan Lee said in a release. "In addition to general court services, the court solicitor will also oversee enhancements in service."
Key areas of change will focus on DUI prosecutions, the discovery process, and the addition of diversion treatment programs.
In 2018, 190 DUI cases came before the Sandy Springs Municipal Court, which were transferred by the City to Fulton County. Lee said transferring cases in this manner costs the city in terms of time, as Sandy Springs police officers must physically transfer defendants, as well as loss of revenue as fines are provided to the County. He also cited safety concerns posed as control of enforcement leaves city jurisdiction.
"Traffic enforcement is a priority as it impacts the safety of everyone who travels within our city limits," Lee said in the release. "We want to retain these cases within our city court system to ensure the best outcome for the safety of our citizens."
The city’s discovery process, a pre-trial procedure in which defendants obtain evidence from the prosecution, will also change under the new solicitor. Currently, cases are bound over when discovery is requested, with defendants and their attorneys obtaining material through Open Records Requests. To streamline the process, the city solicitor will oversee the materials process. The city solicitor will also handle appeals, taking over the function from the city attorney.
Sandy Springs Municipal Court later this year will begin implementing diversion treatment programs, reviewing eligible cases in concert with Sandy Springs Police. Lee says the current system limits what the court is able to do at a city level. By adding diversion programming at the prosecution level, he hopes to produce positive change for both individuals and the court system.
"Mental health and substance abuse issues are at an all-time high, and incarcerating these defendants over rehabilitation does little to help the cause of the crime and has a negative impact on our jail system," Lee said. "Providing eligible defendants, the opportunity for treatment rather than incarceration should reduce jail stays and medical costs for those defendants, and provide an opportunity for those individuals to make life-changing decisions to enhance their futures."
The $304,000 flat fee contract includes the City Solicitor and two, part-time solicitors who will handle the full time office hours and caseloads. The new contract takes effect June 1.
For more information, visit the city online at www.sandyspringsga.gov, or call the Citizen Response Center at 770-730-5600.