Michael Scott Carlson

Michael Scott Carlson

Executive District Attorney - Major Crimes Division

Michael Scott Carlson

Mike Carlson holds a Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating of “AV Preeminent,” reserved for “attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers.” Carlson’s legal career has seen accomplishments as a trial and appellate advocate, lecturer and teacher, and in writing and scholarship.

After graduating from the University of Georgia, Carlson attended Washington and Lee University School of Law, receiving his J.D. degree in 1992. Among the distinctions Carlson earned during law school was the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association Award for his “excellence in demonstrating the talents and attributes of the trial advocate.”

Originally engaging in private practice where he focused on civil litigation and media law, Carlson began his public service career in 1997, working as an assistant district attorney in the Augusta, Atlanta, Stone Mountain, and Cobb Judicial Circuits, prior to his return to Fulton County in 2021. Leadership positions that Carlson has held include chief and deputy chief assistant district attorney and, most recently, chief counsel and ethics officer for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Throughout his over twenty years as an assistant district attorney, Carlson has successfully prosecuted a wide array of high-profile trials and appeals. This includes, for example, jury trial victories in death penalty, gang, infant, elder, domestic violence, and vehicular homicides, as well as murder-for-hire, narcotics trafficking, and spousal rape cases. Carlson’s prevailing appellate arguments range from groundbreaking decisions interpreting Georgia’s Evidence Code to the opinion establishing the constitutionality of Georgia’s anti-gang laws.

Carlson actively addresses Georgia’s bench and bar on the law of evidence, trial practice and procedure. Moreover, Carlson has served as adjunct faculty at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Emory University School of Law, and lectured at numerous Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia training programs. In addition, Carlson regularly educates law enforcement on criminal justice topics.

Carlson’s co-authored books include his evidence treatise which has been authoritatively cited in over 55 appellate opinions. Articles co-authored by Carlson have appeared in academic and practice-concentrated legal journals. Carlson has also penned columns, made broadcast media appearances, and participated in legislative efforts pertaining to a variety of justice issues and reforms.

The impact of Carlson’s commitment to the positive development of the justice system is well-known. A broad spectrum of organizations have honored Carlson for his professional contributions and achievements. Meaningfully, above and beyond formal recognition, many of Carlson’s students, mentees, and colleagues have ascended to prominent positions in the legal profession.