District Attorney Paul Howard offers third explanation for grand jury subpoenas under investigation by the GBI

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has now offered three different explanations for his office issuing grand jury subpoenas when there was no grand jury in session.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating those subpoenas to see if any laws were broken.

Last week FOX 5 and a local legal newspaper The Fulton County Daily Report reported about a new ethical and legal issue facing Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. 

The issue: Howard's office sent out grand jury subpoenas in the Rayshard Brooks shooting case, apparently without a grand jury in session.

GBI Director Vic Reynolds announced the GBI, at the request of the state Attorney General, is investigating those subpoenas.

The GBI was already investigating money the city of Atlanta money granted to a nonprofit tied to Howard; some $140,000 of which ended up as a salary supplement for the District Attorney.

Following media scrutiny about the subpoenas, Paul Howard has now issued three different explanations of how his office issued subpoenas for evidence against Garrett Rolfe. 

“Paul Howard gave three separate and distinct, and to me irreconcilable explanations, of his misuse of the Grand Jury subpoena, said Rolfe’s attorney.

Noah Pines is attorney for Garrett Rolfe, the officer charged with murder in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks

Rolfe fired the fatal shot after Brooks resisted arrest, assaulted him, and fired a Tazer at Rolfe while running away.

Explanation Number one: Pines points out that Howard told the Fulton County Daily report the subpoenas were sent out for a potential “future grand jury.”

Explanation Number two: Howard later told FOX 5 an employee thought a “past grand jury” was still in session.

Explanation Number three: Friday Howard issued a third statement saying wait - it was neither - there was actually a second grand jury all along that hadn't been dismissed and was still available.

That second grand jury’s legal term had already ended when the subpoenas were issued.

“Everybody deserves to be treated fairly and everybody deserves due process, and if a prosecutor is misusing a subpoena against my client who knows how many other people they're doing it to also,” said Pines.

It's not just defense attorney Noah Pines who is baffled by the three different excuses for the subpoenas.

”It absolutely looks like the District Attorney's Office is attempting to sort of cover up their mistakes  with band aids that aren't really staying on very well,” said Jessica Gable Cino.

Cino is a law professor at Georgia State University. She says all three of Paul Howard's explanations for sending out grand jury subpoenas with no grand jury seemingly in place conflict with each other, and none of them make legal sense.

“For all intents of purposes right now it looks like there's an abuse of process which could completely derail this case, and nobody wants that outcome,” said Cino.