Cherokee County attorney turns up after vanishing, DUI — (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By AIXA M. PASCUAL

Published on: 12/01/06

Cherokee County officials are trying to unravel a mystery involving the county’s longtime attorney, Mark Mahler.

This much they know: Mahler has been in WellStar Kennestone Hospital since Friday, after being arrested by Cobb County police, who found him lying in a parking lot in Kennesaw.

Frank Niemeir/StaffCherokee County Attorney Mark Mahler had been missing for about a week when he was found. He suffers from depression, his sister says.

What they don’t know is Mahler’s whereabouts or actions in the days prior to his arrest.

Mahler, 54, was arrested Friday on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving and public drunkenness. He was taken to the hospital instead of jail because “he was too intoxicated and could not even walk without a lot of assistance,” according to the police report.

Mahler, one of three candidates for Superior Court judge in the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit, was put on sick leave by the Cherokee Board of Commissioners early last week because he hadn’t shown up for work, said commissioner Derek Good. Mahler has served as Cherokee County’s attorney since 1991.

On Nov. 21 he was reported missing by his sister, Pamela Jean Mahler, who filed a report with the Holly Springs police.

She said she is still wondering, “what caused him to run away from everything and destroy his life.

“He’s a wonderful, wonderful man.”

The Cherokee commission has hired a Forsyth County law firm until it explores how to go forward, said chairman Michael Byrd. He said the county’s legal business is going on as usual. He couldn’t say if Mahler is still officially holding the job.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Byrd said.

Pamela Mahler said her brother, who in recent years had been through a divorce and the death of his mother, wanted to take some time off.

“He was withdrawing from everything,” she said. “He said he wanted to go away for a while to work things out.”

She said he called her frequently but she never knew where he was or what he was doing.

“He didn’t sound very good,” she said.

In one of his calls, according to the Holly Springs police report, he said that he was still alive and then hung up the phone.

When Pamela Mahler saw her brother at the hospital on Saturday, he was covered in bruises. She thinks he may have been beaten up or had seizures. She said Mahler was not a drinker, but suffers from depression and may not have taken his medication.

She said he seemed confused and couldn’t explain what happened to him. She said his first words to her were: “I thought I was dreaming.”

When she went to visit him Thursday, she said he was coherent for the first time.

On the night Mahler was found lying in the parking lot in Kennesaw, police asked him if he knew where he was. He said he did.

“He advised he was in his room at the Country Inn,” according to the police report.

His eyes were watery and glassy, according to the report.

When asked if he had an ID with him, Mahler advised that he did, then reached back and grabbed the boot of a police officer thinking it was his wallet, said the report. He couldn’t stand up on his own, needing assistance from two police officers.

Byrd said he wants Mahler to get better.

“This is a very nice man who needs some help,” he said. “He has some problems and I hope he gets them sorted out.”

Staff writer Yolanda Rodriguez contributed to this story.