Last week, I invited a good friend from Douglasville to my home to meet some of my other friends in Carroll County. His name is Brian Fortner. Brian is currently the District Attorney in Douglas County. I wanted for some of my Carroll County friends to meet Brian because he and his office perform a vital function in prosecuting criminal cases in the west Georgia area.
Although Brian’s jurisdiction is in another county than mine, Douglas County borders Carroll. Criminal activity that happens in Douglas County affects not only the people of Douglas County, but the surrounding areas as well. Additionally, part of Villa Rica is actually located in Douglas County.
During our get together, I started thinking about the character, integrity, and courage that Brian possesses. That led me to write this column about my friend.
As a criminal defense attorney, some folks may think that because we are on opposing sides in court, we would have an adversarial personal relationship as well. This is logical on its face, but could not be further from the truth. Like most prosecutors, Brian is the type of person who can “agree to disagree” on cases that I handle. This means that we may disagree in court, oppose one another on motions and trials, and even just “battle it out” sometimes in the arena of a superior court.
However, at the end of the day, Brian and I will shake hands and move on to the next case in a professional manner. I think that there is a good explanation for this which forms the character of my friend.
Brian Fortner faced extreme adversity from the very beginning of his life in Atlanta, GA. He was born to a single mother in a place rife with illegal drug use and violence. Rather than use this as an excuse, as many people unfortunately do, Brian used this experience growing up as a motivation to succeed and strive to make his community a better place to live.
He became the first male from his generation to graduate from high school and college. He married his wife Bobbi in 1996 before going to law school and together they moved to Douglas County where they have lived for the last 15 years. Their family has grown to include twin 8 year old boys; the same age as my son, Jake.
Brian started working for the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office on October 2, 2000 and has spent his time since then protecting the citizens of Douglas County. It wasn’t long before he established himself as one of the most effective prosecutors in Douglas County. During the first seven years of his career, Brian handled every type of case from DUI to Capital Murder.
In 2007, Brian left the District Attorney’s Office to serve the community in another way. He was appointed to be the second Solicitor-General of Douglas County by Governor Sonny Perdue. During his tenure as Solicitor General, Brian created one of the most effective misdemeanor prosecutor’s offices in the entire State. He was elected to office in 2008 and in 2009 he received statewide recognition for his accomplishments.
In April of 2012, Brian returned to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office to become the Chief Assistant District Attorney. He has continued seeking justice and protecting victims of crime to this very day.
Now, Brian is the District Attorney of Douglas County. His path has been and is difficult and arduous. However, Brian’s character that was forged with the fire of adversity, the willingness of faith, and the courage to persevere will allow him to continue his ultimate goal of seeking justice for the people he serves.
I think that the well-known description of courage fits my friend perfectly. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Brian Fortner has become this courageous man.