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McGinley announces changes in Newton, Walton DA office leadership
Amber Dally
Amber Dally - photo by Special Photo
Cliff Howard
Cliff Howard

COVINGTON, Ga. — Alcovy’s Judicial Circuit, which includes Newton and Walton counties, will have two chief assistant district attorneys. 

District Attorney Randy McGinley announced his decision to promote Amber Dally and hire Cliff Howard as chief assistant district attorneys for two counties’ offices. McGinley said after reviewing the structure and policies of the district attorney’s office, he felt the minute change in leadership was necessary.

“Historically, we’ve had one chief assistant district attorney working out of one office or going back and forth to manage both offices,” McGinley said. “This change gives us a a chief (assistant district attorney) in both offices, which will help with the increased workload … We have about 61 total employees working within the district attorney’s office in both counties, so I thought this made sense.

“I think branching out — spreading out leadership helps growth, which will ultimately help this office operate more efficiently.”

Dally is set to lead as chief assistant for the Newton County office, McGinley said. 

“As a career prosecutor, Amber has been prosecuting with our Newton office since 2014,” he said. “Amber has been a supervising attorney for a number of years that also handled the prosecution of the most complicated and difficult cases. Additionally, Amber has been the prosecutor assigned to the Newton County Felony Drug Court Program for about two years.” 

Howard stepped into the role of the Walton County office’s chief assistant after being sworn in Friday, Feb. 5, at the Walton County Courthouse, McGinley said. 

“Cliff has been a prosecutor in Walton County since 2006,” McGinley said. “He has prior experience in private practice representing victims of crimes and was previously the chief assistant in the DeKalb County Solicitor’s Office in the mid-1990s. He has handled many of the most serious and complicated cases in our Walton Office for years. Additionally, he has years of experience supervising attorneys and assisting the many agencies that we work with.”

Dally and Howard’s main responsibility will be to assist McGinley in supervising and managing each office, McGinley said, and handling many violent felonies and other complicated cases. Additionally, they will be heavily involved in collaborating with all of the agencies that work with the district attorney’s office, including law enforcement, Division of Family and Children Services, child advocacy centers and others. 

Each office will also have a deputy chief assistant district attorney, McGinley said — Rich Vandever in Newton and Jennifer Hendee in Walton. 

Another change involved Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jillian Hall, who was assigned to Resource Courts in each county, Veterans Court in Newton County, and as a supervising attorney in Newton County. 

Jacqueline Fletcher and Bailey Wilkinson are the senior assistant district attorneys in each office. They will assist in the supervision of other assistant district attorneys while handling a “wide range of cases including murders, sex crimes and other complicated matters,” McGinley said.

Four receive Newton county DA’s Office awards

The District Attorney’s Office in Newton County recently presented annual awards to its top staff members.

Lisa Brown was named Investigator of the Year. Sheila Cornelius was awarded Legal Assistant of the Year and Shay Payne was named Victim Advocate of the Year.

“The year 2020 was different than any year ever before,” McGinley said. “All three of those ladies were a huge part of keeping the office going. That’s why they were all chosen this year. The stepped up and did so many things for the county and this community.”

As a surprise, the office teamed up to award McGinley as the office’s top assistant district attorney.

“I was not expecting it at all,” he said.

McGinley served the majority of 2020 as acting district attorney while maintaining his role as chief assistant district attorney after former DA Layla Zon was appointed an Alcovy Judicial Superior Court judge in May by Gov. Brian Kemp. The Walton County native was later elected district attorney in November after defeating opponent Destiny Bryant. Before becoming district attorney, McGinley served as chief assistant district attorney for three years.