John Melvin, Acting District Attorney in Cobb County, Georgia (Photo: John Disney/ALM) John Melvin, acting district attorney, Cobb County, Georgia (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

John Melvin is in the news this week for two new roles.

As Gov. Brian Kemp swore in Vic Reynolds Monday as director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Melvin stepped up from chief deputy to acting district attorney in Cobb County. It’s a move mandated by statute, Melvin said, pending the appointment of a new DA by Kemp.

Also on Monday, Reynolds named Melvin as the new chief of staff for the GBI.

“I will remain acting DA until the governor appoints, and then will move to the GBI to be chief of staff working with Vic again—which is super cool,” Melvin said. “I am excited to do for the state what we have done in Cobb, which is aggressively attack gangs.”

Melvin said he believes he and Reynolds will be the first lawyers in those positions with the GBI. He figures their background should be helpful.

“A benefit of having a former prosecutor in a position like this is we can bridge the gap between investigations and what is required in front of a jury,” Melvin said.

Melvin is in his 24th year as a prosecutor. He’s worked in three metro Atlanta counties: DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, before Cobb. He moved to Cobb to work for Reynolds, a former criminal defense attorney, magistrate judge and police officer.

“I’m going to miss prosecution a whole bunch,” Melvin said. “This is a wonderful profession where you get to do the right thing.”

Melvin said he makes a pitch for his career path in classes he has taught at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and previously at Emory University School of Law.

“I tell them I have dismissed more cases as a prosecutor than any defense attorney will ever win,” Melvin said.

“People want to change the system and improve the world,” he said. “A prosecutor has a tremendous amount of power. You really want good people in those positions.”

That brings up his reason for leaving.

“I’m 54,” Melvin said, and “Vic is the best boss I’ve ever worked for. He is a genuinely compassionate human being.”

Melvin noted that Reynolds is a strong supporter of drug treatment courts and other accountability programs as an alternative to sending people to prison who don’t need to be there.

“That allows us to focus on the people that need to be focused on,” Melvin added, “like the violent gang-bangers, murderers, rapists and robbers.”