Rep. Tom Weldon did not disclose payments of $2,432 from the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council in fiscal year 2010. Legislators may do business with state agencies under limited circumstances. The sum paid to Weldon falls below the amount, currently $10,000, that legislators must report on their annual Personal Financial Disclosures. Another law, though, requires that public officials disclose payments from state agencies on another online form if any single transaction exceeds $250.
Two lobbyists are finalists for the top job at the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission, the panel said today. The nominees for executive secretary are: Holly LaBerge, director of government relations for the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, and Jerry Presley, a career public servant who lobbied for the Council for Quality Growth in 2008.
Robert “Mack” Crawford was named a Griffin Circuit Superior Court judge last week despite a blistering eight-page critique of his management of Georgia’s system of public defenders. Criminal defense attorney Stephen Bright wrote the Judicial Nominating Commission trying to block Crawford’s appointment, describing his three years as director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council as an “unmitigated disaster.”
Jailhouses are rockin‘ in northeast Georgia, as hundreds of defendants awaiting trial are once again guaranteed an attorney if they cannot afford one. The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council this week settled a lawsuit alleging it had abandoned poor defendants in the five-county Northern Judicial Circuit. The judge signing the consent order concluded the state’s indigent-defense system is “fraught with a lack of accountability.”
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.
A judge Tuesday gave Gov. Sonny Perdue 30 days to hire attorneys for convicted felons who have gone as long as three years without them. The state is constitutionally required to provide the lawyers even if the responsible agency, the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, doesn’t have the cash to do so, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry W. Baxter ruled.