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Finally, 3 years later, trial set for alleged theft of public funds

Finally, 3 years later, trial set for alleged theft of public funds
October 4, 2010 --

Three years ago, a grand jury indicted Davetta Johnson Mitchell, alleging she used seven checks to steal $40,000 in public money. Now, after the case nearly slipped through the cracks, a judge says the former executive director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority will finally get her month in court.

Cobb’s chief judge Kenneth Nix resigns abruptly

Cobb's chief judge Kenneth Nix resigns abruptly
August 10, 2010 --

Cobb Superior Court Judge Kenneth O. Nix resigned abruptly today, citing a desire for an “orderly transition” into offices in the county’s new Court building.

Gwinnett judge must assess ‘systemic breakdown’ in defender system

Gwinnett judge must assess 'systemic breakdown' in defender system
June 28, 2010 --

A Gwinnett County judge must decide whether “an actual breakdown in the entire public defender system” has denied an accused murderer a speedy trial, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. District Attorney Danny Porter indicted Khanh Dinh Phan in 2005, but the state has never paid lawyers hired to represent him in the killing of a Lilburn man and his 2-year-old son.

Grand jury indicts 2 top DeKalb school officials

Grand jury indicts 2 top DeKalb school officials
May 26, 2010 --

A DeKalb County grand jury today indicted former school Superintendent Crawford Lewis and Pat Reid, the district’s former chief operating officer, as well as her ex-husband, architect Tony Pope, and her secretary. The indictment alleges $80 million in fraudulently awarded construction contracts, tens of thousands of dollars in sports and theater tickets as bribes, and a taxpayer-funded stay in the Bahamas. The grand jury also charged, without elaboration, that Reid tried to blackmail Lewis.

Griffin Circuit judge agrees never to be a judge again

April 21, 2010 --

Griffin Circuit Superior Court Judge Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. agreed he would never be a judge again when he resigned this week. That generally happens when the state has launched an investigation of the judge’s conduct. DA Scott Ballard acknowledged that a state investigator met with him Tuesday.

Griffin Circuit’s Johnnie Caldwell resigns judgeship after 15 years

April 19, 2010 --

Another one bites the dust: Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr., a Superior Court judge in Fayette and adjoining counties for 15 years, resigned today effective at the end of the week. Caldwell said he wanted “time to visit with my grandkids and maybe practice law.”

Embattled judge: Is he a Southern gentleman, or incompetent?

January 29, 2010 --

Jan. 29, 2010 — A system that allows non-lawyers to dispense justice in much of rural Georgia has become a central issue in the possible removal of Twiggs County Probate Judge Ken Fowler. The judge’s lawyer blamed Fowler’s mistakes on a lack of training. But former Attorney General Mike Bowers told the commission that Georgia cannot be “sympathetic for incompetence.”

Blitch, ex-Clinch County judge, fined $100K after fraud plea

Blitch, ex-Clinch County judge, fined $100K after fraud plea
December 2, 2009 --

Former Superior Court Judge Brooks E. Blitch III of Clinch County was sentenced Tuesday to three years’ probation and fined $100,000 after pleading guilty to fraud in federal court in Macon. Blitch’s crime was punishable by up to 20 years in prison but he avoided prison time under the plea agreement. Prosecutors dropped the remaining […]

Has funding shortage tainted Pike County death penalty prosecution?

November 10, 2009 --

Is a funding shortage for public defenders sufficient to toss a death penalty prosecution? The Georgia Supreme Court will hear arguments on that question today. Jamie Ryan Weis, accused in February 2006 of beating and killing Catherine King in her Pike County home, contends a state funding shortage has denied him a proper defense. Weis’s […]

Ex-Rep. Charles A. Thomas Jr.: 6 years in prison

November 9, 2009 --

The Georgia Supreme Court accepted Charles A. Thomas Jr.’s surrender of his law license today. Maybe he can be a “jailhouse lawyer” while he’s serving his six-year prison sentence for theft and forgery. Thomas, a member of the Georgia House from 1979 through 1994, sold title insurance for Stewart Title Guaranty Co. until losing that privilege in 2004. Since then, Thomas continued to offer title insurance to clients, forging the policies and collecting the premiums for himself.

Towns County Sheriff Rudy Eller: 5 years in prison

Towns County Sheriff Rudy Eller: 5 years in prison
October 18, 2009 --

In 2007, Rudy Eller hid a gun fired by his chief deputy in a domestic dispute and lied to GBI investigators about it. A year later, Eller pleaded guilty to making false statements, tampering with evidence, hindering apprehension of a criminal, and violating his oath of office. Eller’s lawyer and the district attorney asked the judge to show mercy on Eller, who suffers from diabetes and emphysema. But Superior Court Judge Lynn Alderman was unmoved: “The court is in the business of justice. Mercy is for the Lord and other parties who are not here today.”

DA: DeKalb school construction probe ‘complex & enormous’

DA: DeKalb school construction probe 'complex & enormous'
October 5, 2009 --

An inquiry into DeKalb County schools’ construction contracts continues, with no hint as to how much longer it will take. District Attorney Gwen Keyes-Fleming has said virtually nothing about the case since Superintendent Crawford Lewis sent her results of an internal review in February. “The case is complex and enormous in scope which is resulting in an extended investigation. We will share our findings when we complete the investigation,” Keyes-Fleming said Friday in a e-mailed statement.