Judge rules in favor of probe into DeKalb sheriff's arrest

- A Fulton County judge had decided a committee appointed by the governor will continue to investigate DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann.

Sheriff Mann is accused of exposing himself at Piedmont Park, then allegedly running from an Atlanta police officer.

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An attorney for Sheriff Mann asked a Fulton County Judge to stop the three-person panel from investigating public indecency charges against Mann, claiming the committee has too much power.

Mann's attorney, Noah Pines, also argued that the statute authorizing the committee’s creation only covers alleged misconduct while in his official capacity as sheriff.

"It would make sense that misconduct in office means something you have done in your office, I don't mean literally in your office, but in your official capacity as sheriff. Letting people out of jail, charging more money for bond," explained Pines.

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RELATED: Gov. Deal orders investigation into DeKalb sheriff's arrest

"What we are trying to do is stop them from investigating the sheriff," Pine said in opening statements.

Georgia Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Dobras argued that the appointed committee is lawful and should investigate the sheriff's alleged misconduct.

"Sheriff Mann is the highest law enforcement official in DeKalb County," said Dobras. "He was arrested for exposing himself and masturbating in public and then fleeing another police officer when he was told to stop."

Pines unsuccessfully argued that the committee was a quasi judicial tribunal with decision-making powers, since they are able to ask questions, conduct a hearing and make a determination to governor Deal.

After hearing both sides and a recess to research cases, Judge Eric Dunaway decided a writ of prohibition was not appropriate and that the committee will merely investigate and make a non-binding recommendation.

The sheriff put himself on a one-week suspension, which went into effect on Sunday. In a memo sent to his staff, Mann said he would donate the week's pay to a charity. 

The governor's committee will conduct their first hearing on the matter Thursday, where evidence and witnesses will be introduced. Once the committee completes their investigation, they will make a recommendation to Deal, who can, at most, suspend Mann for 90 days.

MORE: DeKalb County Sheriff Mann taking self-imposed suspension

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