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 legal writing and scholarship.
After graduating with an A.B. degree 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 engaged 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. Also, in 2015, Governor Nathan Deal appointed Carlson to the Georgia Court Martial Review Panel.
Currently, Carlson serves as the Executive District Attorney for the Major Crimes Division at the Office of the Fulton County District Attorney. Among Carlson’s duties in that role is the supervision of six (6) elite prosecution teams to include Appeals, Capital & Cold Cases, Civil Forfeiture, Gangs, Major Case (homicide), and White Collar Crime. Additionally, Carlson maintains his own trial and appellate caseloads.
Throughout his over twenty (20) 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 as a mentor and lecturer at the Gary Christy Memorial Trial Skills Clinic, formerly held at the University of Georgia School of Law.
Annually updated books co-authored by Carlson, along with his father, University of Georgia Professor of Law Emeritus Ronald L. Carlson, include Carlson on Evidence, Carlsons’ Guide to Evidence Authentication, Trial Handbook for Georgia Lawyers, and Successful Techniques for Civil Trials. Carlson’s evidence law treatise, Carlson on Evidence, has been authoritatively cited in over sixty-five (65) Georgia appellate opinions. Articles co-authored by Carlson have been published in both academic and practice-concentrated legal journals.
Listed as a “Georgia Trailblazer” by the Daily Report in 2019, the impact of Carlson’s commitment to the positive development of the justice system is well-known. Carlson has penned columns, made broadcast media appearances, and participated in legislative efforts pertaining to a variety of justice issues and reforms, to include Georgia’s evidence code.
Professional awards and recognition that Carlson has received include: the Eagle Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a state-level attorney by Georgia’s three (3) United States Attorneys; Faculty Medallion from the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education of Georgia for consistently outstanding presenter ratings; Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia’s J. Roger Thompson (now Thompson-Jones) Award for training beginning level prosecutors; selection as a Master in the Joseph Henry Lumpkin (now Clarke-Carley) Inn of Court; and named by James magazine as a “legal legend” and one of “the most influential lawyers in Georgia.”
In his personal life, Carlson has been married to his wife Elizabeth Maria Carlson for over thirty (30) years and is the proud father of their daughter Marika and son Michael.