Monday, May 12, 2014

Legal Troubles at the Fulton Jail

The jail administrator has quit, and the auditor for the U.S. District Court judge that is monitoring the jail found 4 deputies shredding documents yesterday. The deputies claimed the documents were personal papers and not originals, but upon inspection the documents contained originals. Oh my, what is this gonna lead to. Read reports here from the AJC and here from the FCDR.

Genarlow Wilson Freed

The judge considering Genarlow Wilson's appeal not only freed Wilson today, but amended his felony convicton to a misdemeanor one, thus exempting him from sex offender registration. Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson found that the 10-year sentence and sex offender registration requirement that accompanied it were both clearly "cruel and unusual punishment" in light of the circumstances of the case and also considering the change in Georgia law subsequent to Wilson's conviction that transformed the same crime he was convicted of into a misdemeanor.

Read this report from the AJC.

Update: Attorney General Thurbert Baker has announced that the ruling will be appealed, and Wilson's attorney, B.J. Bernstein, is ranting live on CNN.

Jesus, Mr. Baker, can't you let this one go? Nobody except a handful of prosecutors wants to see this man stay in jail. You represent the State of Georgia, the people of the State of Georgia, and we want Genarlow Wilson freed.

DAs Won't Have to Do Furloughs

After Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears declared a "judicial emergency", Gov. Perdue signed an executive order today providing funds that will allow DA offices across the state to avoid weeklong furloughs of ADAs that were going to be necessary because of a shortfall in the budget. Read this report from the AJC.

Community Activist Questions Wilson's Attorneys' Tactics

Rev. Markel Hutchins says B.J. Bernstein's decision to not accept plea offers from the State is a mistake, and he's worried that Wilson will have to serve his entire 10-year sentence as a result. Bernstein counters that Hutchins has not spoken with Wilson or his family and does not know the facts or law of the case. She also blasts Hutchins for meeting with prosecutors against her wishes.

Was Sonny's Un-Veto Constitutional?

Sonny's "un-veto" of the budget bill, followed by a line-iteming out of the worrisome tax cut, constituted a fairly sound practical solution to the budget crisis, but was it constitutional? Some aren't sure (e.g. this from AJC Political Insider and this from Peach Pundit). The line-item veto is authorized by Georgia law (why didn't he just do that in the first place?), but I must confess that I struggle to find any constitutional language that authorizes the taking back of the veto that Sonny executed.

I doubt that anything will come of this, and Sonny's actions will likely stand. In this case that's probably for the best; the tax cut was ridiculous political posturing. But in the future we need to know the rules, preferably before the veto is made.

10th District Special Election

It appears that it will be a runoff between Whitehead and a surprisingly strong Paul Broun, Jr., though it is very tight between Broun and James Marlow, the leading Democrat. A handful of votes still need to be counted, and a recount will be likely, but people who I trust are calling it already for Whitehead and Broun. The runoff will be in three weeks.

Aggravated Assault Conviction Upheld

The Court of Appeals affirmed appellants' convictions, finding that 1) the evidence was sufficient to support them; 2) the trial court properly denied appellants' motion to suppress his pretrial admissions, since they were not the product of interrogation; 3) the trial court properly denied appellant's motion in limine seeking to prevent the victims' testmony regarding a pretrial incident between the appellant and the victim, since the victim gave no recorded pretrial statement that would have triggered the discovery duty to give the appellant pretrial notice of the evidence to be introduced; 4) the trial court's error in admitting the testimony of the investigating detective that he was "confident" appellant was responsible for shooting the victim was harmless; 5) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in limiting appellant's voir dire; and 6) appellant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel.