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Attorney Mark Tate Defends DA Shalena Cook Jones Against Federal Sanctions

In an exclusive interview with WJCL 22, Attorney Mark Tate, representing Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones, addressed the recent sanctions imposed against her by a federal judge. These sanctions are linked to a civil trial where Cook Jones is a defendant.

“That order's what we call a finger burner. It's so hot it makes you go 'ow, drop that,’” Tate commented. “I believe it was clearly an inflammatory order designed to publicly humiliate Shalena Cook Jones, and it succeeded in that.”

The sanctions concern allegations of misconduct by Cook Jones in a workplace discrimination lawsuit filed by a former assistant district attorney. Federal Judge R. Stan Baker's October order criticized Cook Jones for causing delays in the court's schedule and for not attending a scheduled deposition. The judge highlighted that Cook Jones chose to lead a criminal trial on the same dates as her civil case, despite knowing about the conflict.

“She had a duty to the voters of Chatham County and was fulfilling it by prosecuting a rape case rather than attending a deposition,” explained Tate.

Tate, who began representing Cook Jones in mid-November, highlighted the shortcomings of her previous legal team. “She entrusted a law firm to manage her legal affairs, but they did not respond adequately,” he noted.

Tate plans to file an appeal to ensure that all aspects of Cook Jones' situation are considered. "She deserves more understanding regarding the professional and personal challenges influencing her work and the civil case involving a former employee unhappy with their dismissal,” he stated.

Regarding Cook Jones' future, Tate affirmed to WJCL’s Andy Cole that she is "planning on winning" her reelection in 2024.