Fulton names sole finalist for county attorney

Y. Soo Jo was named as the sole finalist for the county attorney position by the Fulton County Commission on Sept. 15, 2021. (Courtesy of Fulton County government)

Credit: Lynette Clark Davis

Credit: Lynette Clark Davis

Y. Soo Jo was named as the sole finalist for the county attorney position by the Fulton County Commission on Sept. 15, 2021. (Courtesy of Fulton County government)

The Fulton County Commission is set to consider one person to fill its open county attorney position.

Commissioners named Y. Soo Jo the candidate last week following an executive session. Commissioners for weeks have been interviewing candidates in executive session. It is expected she will be formally given the position at the next commission meeting.

The previous county attorney, Patrise Perkins-Hooker, retired in early 2021. She became the first African-American lawyer to serve as president for the State Bar of Georgia in 2014. Kaye Burwell has been serving as the interim county attorney.

The county attorney not only represents Fulton’s more than 1 million residents in court, but they also handle lawsuits and give legal advice to commissioners and staff.

Jo would take over an office of about 40 staff, about half of which are lawyers.

She has been an assistant U.S. attorney with the federal Northern District of Georgia since October 2018, according to her resume.

Just three weeks ago, the federal agency announced she helped reach an agreement about alleged lending discrimination — or redlining — practices from an Atlanta bank accused of disenfranchising mostly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Houston, Texas. The bank agreed to invest more than $5.5 million to increase credit opportunities for residents in those neighborhoods.

Before that, she worked in the private and public sector.

Her roles in public service include: counseling 25 judges with the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court for 14 months, two three-year stints with the city of Atlanta with one as senior assistant city attorney for labor/employment and the other as an assistant city attorney, about four years with the Fulton county attorney’s office from May 2008 to July 2012 representing the county in court on employment/finance issues and eight years as a Fulton Superior Court judge’s staff attorney.

In the private sector she: for eights months was the Equal Employment Opportunity compliance manager for Home Depot and for 13 months was associate to the Special Assistant Attorney General for Georgia Department of Human Services in Fulton prosecuting civil contempt actions.

She graduated with an undergraduate degree in languages and linguistics from Georgetown University and her law degree from Georgia State University. She speaks conversational Korean and some Mandarin, according to her resume, and is a member of the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

One other line on her resume may come in handy: She was a volunteer election monitor for United State Justice Department in 2018 and 2020.

She very easily could end up in court tussling over one of the nation’s most contentious voting laws, Senate Bill 202. Among its 98 pages, the bill allows the State Election Board to replace a county’s elections superintendent following a performance review/audit/investigation with a temporary superintendent with full reign counting votes and staffing.

The process is already underway, after Republican state legislators from both houses have requested an investigation. The State Elections Board formed a review panel.

Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts has repeatedly said Fulton would exploring its legal options to fight what he would consider a wrongful takeover of county elections.

During deliberations for chair of Fulton’s elections board, Pitts said the county needs its best people working in elections because of the scrutiny they are sure to face.

Commissioners are set to formally vote on the county attorney position at their Oct. 6 meeting.

Credit: WSBTV Videos