Former Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney Rick Currie has announced he is leaving the office in protest of the governor’s appointment to fill his post.
Currie resigned in May and assistant district attorney George Barnhill was named acting DA until one could be appointed.
Meanwhile, Currie was named a special assistant district attorney for the circuit to aid in the preparation of cases and to assist younger attorneys.
” I also had several cases that I was preparing to personally try — including Craig Thrift who is charged with the murder of his cousin, Terry Rouse, in 1991,” Currie said.
But all that has now changed after Currie told the Enterprise that he could not continue to work with the DA’s office after Gov. Deal appointed former assistant DA Bradley Collins to fill his seat.
“After dedicating more than 32 years of my life to the Waycross DA’s Office, to actively prosecuting criminal cases and to protecting the rights of victims in the Waycross Judicial Circuit, I can no longer have any association with this office due to the appointment of Bradley Collins,” Currie said.
“I cannot, nor will I, serve under him. I do not respect him or his trial experience, and I don’t have any faith in his ability to effectively perform the duties of District Attorney,” the former DA said.
Currie retired May 31 after 32 years in the district attorney’s office including almost five terms of service as the district attorney of the Waycross Judicial Circuit. As DA, he took the lead on almost every major murder case tried in the six counties of the Waycross Judicial Circuit, and successfully tried six death penalty cases, four of which were given a sentence of death.
“Additionally, I have also resigned my position on the State’s Commission on Family Violence, to which I had been appointed by Governor Deal in November 2012,” Currie said.
“I do not understand this appointment. I am completely shocked and devastated. Gov. Deal has appointed someone with very little experience. I know that Bradley Collins is not ready to be district attorney and is not prepared and qualified to lead a prosecution team of 8 assistant district attorneys,” the former DA said.
“It is no secret that I favored the appointment of my Chief Assistant District Attorney George Barnhill. George served as my chief ADA for almost 20 years and had 27 years experience as a felony criminal prosecutor.”
But his support for Barnhill did not hold much sway with the governor.
“Apparently, my letter of support for George was totally ignored. Instead, Deal appointed Collins who has only tried four cases during his two-year tenure as an assistant DA in Waycross,” Currie said.
“His track record is mixed at best. He only won 50 percent of his cases — that’s two. And, one of the cases he won, he actually wanted to dismiss and I had to make him try it.”
Currie said he no only has left his post at the DA’s office, but he plans to fight the appointment.
“Rest assured that I will do everything in my power to re-establish proper and effective prosecution in the Waycross Judicial Circuit in next year’s election.”
Currie’s words fly in the face of a glowing review of Collins short career as assistant DA which appeared in an area daily newspaper.
“Collins, as assistant DA at the Waycross office under Currie, built a strong resume in a short time, winning convictions in several criminal trials in Ware County and Brantley County, as well as other counties in the circuit,” is the way a story without a byline described the newly appointed DA in the Waycross Journal-Herald’s Friday edition.
But Barnhill apparently disagreed, firing Collins in late June.
“George fired him and I would have fired him,” Currie said.