One of DeKalb County's top prosecutors, Chief Assistant District Attorney Don Geary, is leaving behind the high-profile Andrea Sneiderman murder case and taking a pay cut to work in a similar job for his old friend, incoming Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds.
Geary's move across town is part of a major shift in each county's prosecutorial personnel. Reynolds also recruited DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney John Melvin and five other lawyers to become Cobb County assistant district attorneys.
Geary, 56, said in an interview that he's happy working with DeKalb District Attorney Robert James Jr., but he couldn't resist the opportunity to team up with Reynolds. The two were young assistant district attorneys under Fulton DA Lewis Slaton from 1989 to 1992.
"I hold Mr. James in extremely high regard. There's no issue here. This is a wonderful officeone of the best in the state," Geary said. "There's nothing this office can't do and can't handle."
Geary will be the No. 2 lawyer in the Cobb office after serving as the No. 3 lawyer in DeKalb under Nicole Marchand Golden, who is also a chief assistant district attorney.
Geary's reduction in pay, from about $140,000 in DeKalb to somewhere in the mid-$130,000 range in Cobb, is offset by the chance to help shape a new administration and potentially become a judge, Geary said.
"You're not a career prosecutor if it's about the money. I'm going for the opportunity and the people, and that's it," Geary said. "This is about getting an old group back together, and the satisfaction I might give to serve with some friends."
Geary recently interviewed for a Court of Appeals seat, but he wasn't selected by Governor Nathan Deal's Judicial Nominating Commission last week as one of three finalists.
If Geary, who describes himself as conservative, decides he wants to become a judge, he is more likely to be appointed in Cobb, which is a Republican county, said Reynolds, who wrote a letter supporting Geary's appellate court candidacy. DeKalb is a more liberal county, and James is a Democrat.
"Given what trial judges do and what I do, I like what I do a whole lot better than what they do. I don't know. Time will tell, and we'll see what the future holds," Geary said.