District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr.
Currently serving his fifth term as Fulton County District Attorney, Paul L. Howard, Jr. is a visionary and trailblazer whose innovative ideas have left an indelible mark on the local justice system and the community at large.
Mr. Howard first assumed the Office of Fulton County District Attorney in January 1997---becoming the first African-American to be elected District Attorney in the State of Georgia. He succeeded Lewis Slaton, who held this position for 31 years. Prior to being elected District Attorney, Mr. Howard had served as Fulton County’s Solicitor General for four years.
During his tenure as District Attorney, Mr. Howard has achieved a wide range of ambitious goals, transforming the DA’s Office and revolutionizing the county criminal justice system in the process. Some highlights include the top-to-bottom administrative restructuring of an antiquated office, featuring the installation of Deputy District Attorneys who provide day-to-day supervision of the Office’s divisions; the creation of specialized prosecution units, including Major Felony, Crimes Against Women & Children, White Collar Crime, the Multi-Agency Cold Case Squad, Public Integrity and the Trial Division. Additionally, Mr. Howard has established the Fulton County “Complaint Room” and, with it, has implemented a front-end case screening operation that has streamlined and expedited the felony charging process- a change that is saving the county millions of dollars in jail housing costs annually.
Mr. Howard's innovative ideas extended beyond the courthouse to the community with the advent of "Community Prosecution," a concept that strategically places Assistant District Attorneys in satellite offices throughout the County. Under the Community Prosecution umbrella, Mr. Howard has implemented several successful initiatives over the years, including the widely popular Citizens' CourtWatch program. Implemented in 2004, the grass-roots program serves as a vehicle for community engagement in the criminal justice system. As Community Prosecutors track repeat offenders and cases of interest in their respective communities, citizens are kept abreast of pending cases and are invited to observe and participate (at the Court’s discretion) in judicial proceedings. Neighborhood Fresh Start and the Multi-Jurisdictional Burglary Task Force are other notable Community Prosecution efforts.
District Attorney Howard also has a passion for youth and creating programs that address their needs in unique and positive ways. Among his collection of youth initiatives are the Junior District Attorney and Project Legal Lives programs. Each offers elementary and middle school students hands-on lessons in civics and law. The Perkerson Reading Program, Partnership for Perfect Attendance, Project Turn Around and Teen Court round out the list of other key youth programs implemented during Mr. Howard’s tenure.
Mr. Howard’s law career began in 1976 with the City of Atlanta as an Assistant Solicitor. A year later, he became the City’s Deputy Solicitor. He remained in this position until 1980 when he joined Fulton County as an Assistant District Attorney in Mr. Slaton’s office where he served eight years. Upon leaving the District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Howard worked for three years as an attorney for the Atlanta law firm of Thomas, Kennedy, Sampson, Edward & Patterson, before becoming Fulton County's Solicitor General.
Active in professional and community activities, Mr. Howard is a Director-at-Large of the National Association of District Attorneys (NDAA). He is also a member of the National Black Prosecutors Association, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials and 100 Black Men of Atlanta. Mr. Howard has also served as chairperson of the Gate City Bar Association’s Government Law Section and the Atlanta University Criminal Justice Public Service Institute Courts Committee. During his administration, former Governor Roy Barnes appointed District Attorney Howard to his Commission on Certainty in Sentencing, a perfect complement to Howard’s previous service as co-chair of the Senate Structured Sentencing Commission.
Mr. Howard has received numerous awards and recognition for his service to the citizens of Fulton County. Among his recent accolades is the “Zenith Award for Service to the Community” given by the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA). Mr. Howard has also been recognized by Atlanta Victim Assistance, Inc. with the Paula Bevington “Helping Hand Award” and by the renowned Butler Street YMCA with its “Legacy of Firsts” award. In 2008, Mr. Howard was inducted into the Gate City Bar Association’s Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of other legal notables such as former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, former Governor Roy Barnes and famed attorney Donald Lee Hollowell. Mr. Howard is also a past recipient of the prestigious “Trumpet Award” and has received other national acknowledgements including the “Humane Law Enforcement Award” given by The Humane Society of the United States. He was also honored with the “Good Guy” award from the Georgia Womens’ Political Caucus, the Atlanta Community Prevention Coalition’s “Outstanding Effort to Stop the Violence” award and the Gammon Theological Seminary’s “Outstanding Community Service” award. The Atlanta Business Chronicle has also recognized Mr. Howard numerous times by in its annual “Who’s Who in Law & Accounting” issue. He was also named one of the “50 Most Influential Georgians” by Georgia Informer magazine.
A cum laude graduate of Morehouse College in political science, Mr. Howard received the school’s Marvin C. Magnum Legal Achievement Award. His exemplary undergraduate performance also earned him an academic scholarship to Emory University’s School of Law. While completing his graduate work at Emory, Mr. Howard was elected president of the Black American Law Students’ Association and later vice president of the Student Bar Association.
Paul Howard is a native of Midville, Georgia. He is married to the former Petrina Moody and has three children.