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DeKalb jury enters 2nd day in legislator malpractice case


A DeKalb County jury deliberated for 2 1/2 hours Tuesday in a case alleging legal malpractice by state Rep. Randal Mangham.

The jury is considering three days of testimony regarding Mangham’s handling of a personal injury case stemming from a 1995 car wreck.

Mangham’s former client, Karen Smith, claimed she suffered two herniated discs when a church bus ran her car off the road in southwest Atlanta. She hired Mangham to sue the church and driver, but a series of missteps culminated in the case being thrown out of court in 2004.

“This was a string of mistakes, a failure to communicate with the client [and] an abandonment of the client,” Richard Harris, Smith’s attorney, told the jury in closing arguments.

Mangham’s attorney, Jeff Sakas, made little effort to contest that characterization of Mangham’s actions.

But he challenged Smith’s account of the accident, suggesting she had been speeding and distracted when the wreck occurred, and argued that she actually injured her back years earlier as a line worker at the Ford Motor Co. plant in Hapeville.

“It is clear that her story just does not make sense,” Sakas said.

Mangham lost a 2005 trial on the malpractice charges and was ordered to pay $293,000 in damages. But he won a new trial a year ago over a ruling on his inability to call an expert witness.





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