On Tuesday former prosecutor Kalki Yalamanchili announced that he was a candidate for Western Judicial Circuit district attorney, a position that serves Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties. What follows are the prepared remarks he made from the steps of the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse.
Every day members of our community - our family members, our friends, our co-workers - come to the building behind us to seek justice. They often come after experiencing the worst
moment of their lives due to a crime committed against them. But sadly in our
community now, our District Attorney is failing them. My name is Kalki Yalamanchili
and I am here to announce I am running to be your next District Attorney of the
Western Judicial Circuit to deliver justice for all in our community.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have dedicated my entire professional career for
over a decade to working in the courtroom during the 6 plus years that I worked as a
prosecutor (5 1⁄2 of which were spent right behind us serving this community) and after
that time in private practice with my office about a block from where we stand now. My
time as an Assistant District Attorney was both fulfilling and humbling. I considered it
an honor to serve my fellow citizens in such a significant way and I look forward to
rebuilding the reputation of the District Attorney’s office by ensuring that once again
victims in this circuit have an office that will seek justice for them with competency and
compassion and ensuring we all have a District Attorney’s Office that will respect the
rights of our citizens.
Our community deserves justice for all. Justice for all requires maintaining an
adequately staffed District Attorney’s office to deliver justice for victims swiftly because
justice delayed is justice denied. And, it means respecting the rights of our citizens
including a victim’s right to be informed of what is occurring in their case.
It is shocking that Deborah Gonzalez’s District Attorney’s Office has less than one-half,
less than one-half of its prosecutor positions filled with attorneys who are licensed to
practice law in the State of Georgia. Imagine if you needed to have surgery and your
only option was a hospital that only had half the staff needed to safely perform the
surgery. We are facing a crisis. The inability to maintain a fully staffed office of well
trained prosecutors is leading to cases being lost at trial meaning that violent criminals
are not being held accountable and are being released to victimize others again. It is
leading to cases of sexual assaults being dismissed.
I will use the relationships that I’ve developed over a decade working in criminal justice
to ensure that our District Attorney’s office is staffed with experienced prosecutors who
are committed to doing the job the right way and have proven that they have what it
takes to deliver justice for victims. We have one of the top law schools in the country a
short walk from where we stand now. I’ve had the opportunity to teach a class at the law
school on criminal litigation the last several years. I love the opportunity teaching
provides me to help give future attorneys the skills and the knowledge they need to
follow their passions. I have regularly told my students that being a prosecutor is the
best job you can have as an attorney because you get to do what you think is the right
thing. Our circuit is an amazing place to live and work, but the lack of experience,
failure of leadership, and the failure to provide adequate training and supervision to
young attorneys at the District Attorney’s office has driven those young attorneys to
work in other circuits rather than in our community. When I am District Attorney, my
senior staff and I will provide in-house training to give our prosecutors the tools they
need to serve their communities well and to deliver justice for our citizens. Training
that Deborah Gonzalez is incapable of providing because she is an entertainment lawyer
and failed politician.
Additionally, we are also failing to connect people who have committed nonviolent
crimes with the resources they need to reduce the chance that they commit a crime
again. Accountability courts are one of the most successful methods in the criminal
justice system to reduce the risk of reoffending amongst those suffering from chronic
substance abuse or mental health issues. Yet, only half of the available positions for
participants in our felony drug court are filled due to the inability of the District
Attorney to get the job done. We have a pretrial diversion program that is underutilized.
When we divert the cases of nonviolent first time offenders who are often young people
away from a result that involves a criminal conviction, we have a responsibility not to
just ask that those individuals stay out of trouble and complete community service but
also to provide them with the tools and community connections they need to not
commit more crimes because that is just common sense.
We cannot administer justice without respecting the rights granted to our citizens. This
District Attorney’s office has admitted that they have failed to honor the rights of victims
under our laws when prosecuting cases. The violations that we know of are certainly
just the tip of the iceberg and are unacceptable to me and they are unacceptable to our
citizens. It is also the duty of the District Attorney’s office to act within the bounds of
our laws and rules when prosecuting cases. Acting in violation of the rights of citizens in
our community endangers the rights of all of us. We will establish procedures to ensure
that victims’ rights are not violated.
Many of you may not know that I am a child of immigrants. My mother and father
instilled in us an awesome respect for the incredible gift that we had been given by being
born in the United States of America. This is a land of incredible opportunity that exists
because of a foundational commitment to justice and the rule of law. I was given that
gift through my parents’ sacrifice and struggle to make a life here, and I won’t sit idly by
as the rule of law and the administration of justice crumbles in the community that is
our home, the community where my wife, Caitlin, and I are raising our 6 and 4 year old
My parents also instilled in me the importance of public service and engagement with
my community which has always been central to who I am. It is what led me to work as
a prosecutor at the beginning of my legal career and has led me to serve at non-profit
organizations since I went into private practice.
My experience and commitment to public service have led me to seek the Office of
District Attorney. This Office is a public trust with the duty to do the right thing the
right way regardless of whether anyone is watching. The safety of our families and our
community is not a partisan issue; neither is protecting and respecting our rights. This
Office should be a place of public service; not a place to relaunch a political career. That
is why I am running as a non-partisan candidate. Those that would make this position
about party labels do so to divide us for their own benefit. Party labels will not keep our
community safe and protect victims’ rights only returning integrity, experience, and
common sense to the District Attorney’s Office will do that, and if we’ve learned
anything the last three years it’s that without those attributes – there is no justice.
Right now, we all have the duty and responsibility to do something. I need you to stand
with me so together we can reestablish justice in our community.