Russell County District Attorney Kenneth Davis has made the right call -- under the circumstances, really the only call -- in the case of an April traffic tragedy that technically isn't yet a case at all. But given the potential for criminal charges in the April 2 death of 26-year-old Sean Rey of Phenix City, as well as the obvious potential for conflict of interest should such charges be filed, Davis rightly recused his office from any involvement.
Instead, as of last month the matter is in the hands of the Alabama Attorney General's Office -- specifically, the hands of Assistant Attorney General John Kachelman, who is now studying the file and waiting for physical evidence.
Rey was struck by not just one, but two vehicles as he was cycling north on Summerville Road on the way to work. He collided with a pickup truck that turned in front of him, according to police reports; the driver of that vehicle stopped.
It's the second impact that is at issue in the district attorney's recusal. As Rey lay in Summerville Road, he was struck by another car whose driver left the scene. That driver is believed to have been Forest Duncan, 82, who once worked as a Russell County bailiff and whose son now serves in that post.
The victim's family is understandably frustrated by the seeming stalemate in this case, especially as Davis said he was planning to present the case to a grand jury earlier this month before deciding to recuse his office. "I was really hoping it would go to the grand jury and get that part of this over with," said the victim's father.
Now that Davis has made his decision -- again, the correct one -- all involved need to have this matter proceed without further delay.
Georgia is taking the next step in its continuing process of criminal justice reform with Gov. Nathan Deal's appointment of a state steering committee for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI).
JDAI is a national program designed and sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and its purpose is to protect public safety, steer youth away from crime, and save taxpayer money with alternative sentencing approaches for low-risk juveniles.
Yes, those do appear to be compatible goals. Clayton County adopted JDAI 12 years ago, and the county reports an 80 percent decrease in daily juvenile detention population and a near-zero rate of youthful offenders who participated in JDAI being later arrested on felony charges. Nationally, the foundation reports an average 44 percent drop in youth detention rates in counties that have adopted the program.
The governor obviously finds the stats credible: "We rely on evidence while embracing innovations," Deal said in announcing the committee, "and this latest move continues that pattern."