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New Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack Implementing Several Changes During First Six Months

Retired judge Gary Tyack
Tyack Campaign

Franklin County’s new prosecutor, Gary Tyack admits the workload is heavy as COVID-19 has slowed down court cases, but progress is underway. Tyack spoke to WOSU about his first six months on the job.

Tyack says the $200,000 from the city of Columbus announced this week will help him hire two more assistant prosecutors to handle gun cases. The prosecutor's office is currently handling 70 gun cases.

“I think any new people that we get will be a help, especially since guns are involved in so many of these things,” Tyack said. “Being able to add two more people to what’s called our gun unit that can then turn around and be full-time processing cases which involve firearms I think it will help some.”

Tyack thinks the case of former Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Meade, who shot and killed Casey Goodson, Jr., will go to a grand jury for review within the next few weeks.

Tyack also said he think his office has already sent a message to law enforcement officers who think they can get avoid prosecution.

"Hopefully it's already affected the attitude on the street of certain police officers who may have felt in times past that they were immune,” he said. “But they know with me as the prosecutor they're not."

The office is plowing through a backlog of 200 cases which were not heard in some cases last year because jurors did not want to serve during the pandemic, Tyack said.

Tyack has also worked to diversify the workforce at the prosecutor’s office and he said it’s slowly happening.

“Over 25% of the hires up to this point in time have been people of color or other minority status,” he said. "I think that was important, I mean you've got to remember that Franklin County is now, I think, between 30 to 40% people of color."

Tyack, a Democrat, also wants to re-establish a corruption unit focused on state lawmakers. The Republican-controlled legislature has attempted to pass a measure to allow lawmakers accused of a crime to move their case to their home county and out of Franklin County.

“If you have somebody who’s a legislator from a small county who is buddies with the county chair and everybody in the prosecutor’s office there, the chances of them being treated the way they ought to be treated if they screw up are very slim,” he said.

Tyack, who suffered a stroke last year before the November election, said he’s still undergoing physical therapy, but he is mentally sharp.

“The stroke effected some of my control of the right side of my body, some of the right leg and some of the right arm, but none of my brain,” Tyack said.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.