Providing zealous, effective, ethical representation

to indigent people accused of crimes.





ron cross



Ron Cross

Ron Cross has been Chairman of the Columbia County Commission since 2002 when he was elected the first county-wide elected chairman in history. Since then, Mr. Cross has supervised over two hundred million dollars of additions and improvements to the county. Prior to public service, Mr. Cross was an engineer and later a general contractor building schools in both Columbia and Richmond counties. Mr. Cross has served on the Governor’s Energy Task Force which formulated the energy plan for Georgia under Governor Sonny Perdue. He also served as the seventh district Chairman of the Board of Managers of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and on the Executive Committee of that organization.  He currently serves as Chairman of the Savannah Upper-Ogeechee Regional Water Planning Council. Commissioner Cross was re-appointed to the Georgia Public Defender Council by Governor Nathan Deal in July of 2011 and was voted Chairman of the Council.

chris cohilas


 Christopher Cohilas

Appointed by Governor Deal in September of 2017, Mr. Cohilas is a partner with the law firm of Watson Spence LLP. He is the chairman of the Dougherty County Board of Commissioners and a former Chief Assistant District Attorney for Dougherty County. Mr. Cohilas earned a bacherlor's degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the Georgia State University College of Law. He and his wife, Karen, have four children and live in Albany.

arch mcgarity


Judge Arch W. McGarity

Arch W. McGarity is a lifelong resident of Henry County, Georgia.  Judge McGarity followed his father’s footsteps into the practice of law having earned his law degree from Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University in 1977 and his undergraduate degree from University of Georgia in 1974.   After eighteen years as a lawyer, in 1995 he was appointed Superior Court judge for Flint Judicial Circuit by Governor Zell Miller.  He currently serves as the Chief Judge of Superior Court of Henry County, Flint Judicial Circuit, Georgia (Judge 1995-present, Chief since 2007).  He also served two terms as the Administrative Judge for the Sixth Judicial District (July 2010 – July 2014). After having served council since July 2009, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle named Judge McGarity to the council again in July of 2011.

murphy miller


Judge Murphy Miller

Judge Murphy Miller attended Emory University and graduated from Woodrow Wilson College of Law. Prior to becoming Superior Court Judge in 2008, he was the City Attorney for Young Harris, GA, the Administrative Law Judge, State Board of Worker’s Compensation and Enotah Judicial Circuit Public Defender. He became Chief Judge of the Enotah Circuit in May 2012 and served until his resignation on July 1, 2018. He is the Founder and former Presiding Judge for the Enotah Mental Health Court as well as the Enotah Day Report Lite Program and the Enotah Parental Accountability Court. Judge Miller was appointed to the council in July 2011 by Speaker David Ralston..

lee morris


E. Lee Morris

Lee Morris is the Fulton County Commissioner representing District 3, which encompasses the southern part of Sandy Springs, all of Buckhead, and parts of Midtown. After graduating from Duke University in three years, he practiced as a Certified Public Accountant in Raleigh, North Carolina, and then enrolled in Emory University School of Law, where he served as Managing Editor of the Emory Law Journal and later as an adjunct law school faculty member. Mr. Morris practiced tax, corporate, and pension law in Atlanta for several years, but for the past 31 years, he has served as General Counsel and Chief Financial Officer for an Atlanta-based architectural-engineering firm. Mr. Morris has been deeply involved in community affairs since coming to Atlanta in 1973. In June of 2007, and again in 2011, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle appointed Mr. Morris to the Georgia Public Defender Council.

lamar paris


Lamar Paris

Lamar Paris, a lifelong resident of Union County, graduated from Union County High School and went on to get his BBA at the University of Georgia. Commissioner Paris, a past president of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, is one of only a few commissioners statewide who has received the Platinum Standard of Excellence Certificate in 2014.  He serves as Chairman of the Joint Development Authority of Union, Towns, and Fannin counties and is a member of the Coosa North Georgia Regional Water Council.  He also serves on the Union County Board of Health, is a member of the North Georgia Resource Management Authority, the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission, and is a member of the National Association of Counties serving on their Environmental, Energy and Land Use Committee.  Commissioner Paris also sits on the board of the Peace Officers Standards and Training Council. 

donna seagraves


Donna Seagraves

Donna Seagraves is the Piedmont Circuit Public Defender, serving Banks, Barrow, and Jackson counties. Ms. Seagraves has served in that capacity since the enactment of the Indigent Defense Act in 2005.  Prior to appointment as Circuit Public Defender, she served as an assistant public defender in Clarke and Fulton Counties and then as the Public Defender in Jackson and Barrow Counties. Ms. Seagraves is a 1987 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law and was appointed to the Georgia Public Defender Council by Governor Nathan Deal in July 2011.

david sims


W. David Sims

W. David Sims is a veteran of the United States Army. He holds a Bachelor’s of Administration and a Juris Doctorate from Mercer University. While at Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law, Mr. Simms served as President of the Student Bar Association. Additionally, he has served as President of both the Savannah Bar Association and the Savannah Trial Lawyers Club. Mr. Sims is currently Of Counsel at Insley and Race in Atlanta where he specializes in medical malpractice defense, nursing malpractice, hospital negligence, insurance defense, and premises liability. In July of 2011, Governor Deal appointed Mr. Sims to the Georgia Public Defender Council.

ed tolley


Edward D. Tolley

Edward D. Tolley holds both a Master of Business Administration and a law degree from the University of Georgia. He has served as president of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, the Western Circuit Bar Association, and the Federal Association (Middle District). A member of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia since 1988, he is a two-time recipient of the Indigent Defense Award, a recipient of the State Bar of Georgia Professionalism Award, the Chief Justice Award for Community Service, and the Tradition of Excellence Award. Mr. Tolley has practiced law for more than forty years, has published more than twelve academic articles and presented more than sixty lectures on evidence, procedure, trial practice, and constitutional law to various groups. Speaker of the House David Ralston named Mr. Tolley to the Georgia Public Defender Council in July of 2011.