Dorian Makes a Great Point

This comment is worth pulling up front.

The worst part about the publicity over this [Nichols murder trial] is the impression it leaves in the minds of the general public, the press, and especially the legislature that Judges are all this spend easy. No, the responsibility for this fiasco rests squarely on the shoulders of one man, Judge Fuller. I mean, c

12 comments

  1. memberg says:

    Can you really blame Howard? This happened in his shop – of course he would want to stick it to Nichols for everything Plus, if he under-indicted, his political opponents would rake him over the coals.

  2. dorian says:

    Holy SMOKE! Erick put one of my comments on the front page. I’m giddy with excitement! I think I deserve privileges now!

  3. Steve Garveys Child says:

    If Howard was forced to overindict for political reasons, why pile on the defense for defending all charges? I’m not happy about the costs, but I would be interested to know just how much the State has spent on its side.

    It’s all our money, regardless of how much of it is spent.

    If the State doesn’t watch it, a federal judge will halt all executions in Georgia.

  4. dorian says:

    Look, this number of counts business hasn’t got anything to do with it. First, even if there were 800 counts, there aren’t that many that focus on the death penalty. There are only a couple of those. His attorneys aren’t gonna get popped with ineffective for not being as comprehensive on the agg assault as they were on the murder. Second, some of the counts will merge, or would merge for sentencing purposes if the DA hadn’t gone after the death penalty.

    Third, as an attorney have you ever represented a client that you knew was guilty as sin and had a monumental amount of evidence against him? What do you do? You plea that sucker as fast as all get out, but what if you can’t? What if there is no compromise? These defense attorneys are, strategically, trying to break the system. Period.

    Starting with Mears and his crowd. These folks have always been rabid about getting rid of the death penalty. What did anyone seriously expect to happen if they were given a blank check?

    Finally, isn’t a death penalty trial bifrucated? Sweet Jesus, no one can possibly think this guy is innocent or that the evidence would ever show he is. They could save all this nonsense for the penalty phase where it would really count anyway and still preserve every one of their objections for the nearly unlimited appeals and habeases that will follow. That is, how it ought to all shake out anyway, and would have had the attorneys not been handed a blank check.

    No, this is about breaking the system, and we are in the rather unfortunate position of having a sympathetic Senior Judge who has bought it hook, line, and sinker.

  5. The Comma Guy says:

    The Budge for the Fulton County DA’s office is a public document. I have not heard of any separate line items in the budget just for this one trial. And those 5 ADA’s are still carrying normal case loads – while the defense lawyers only have to concentrate on this one case.

  6. eehrhart says:

    Dorian is correct and this is just the first in what will be a series of battles with the state on funding. As he paraphrased this is nothing more than an arrow in the quiver of those wanting the death penalty abolished. They can find no help in the legislative branch so they turn to the courts and useful fellow travelers like Fuller.

    As for the amount of your tax money spent to give platinum plated defense to these so called destitute defendents please go look at the amounts over the years. I think it is approaching 100 million or more. This is obscene.

    This will be an interesting battle, because I think you will find that this legislature has the strength and the courage to tell the courts to pound sand when they exceed their constitutional mandate as they are here.

    I for one am looking forward to making this singular battle for separation of powers.

  7. dorian says:

    Rep. is correct. Moreover, the system wasn’t really broken before. Maybe, in a few places, but for the most part, contract public defenders employed by the counties were doing a better job and were cheaper. Plus, they tried more cases. Don’t I recall Mears testifying before the joint budget committee last year the counties and the state spent over $60 million dollars for about 1000 jury trials? It’s insane. Rep. Erhrhart this is an example for why I have a point of convergence from you on the issue of funding and local control. The locals did this better, and when they didn’t it was isolated. It didn’t break the state.

    However, Judge Fuller is not a poster child for all Judges. Unfortunately, you won’t hear other Judges comment on this trial, because they can’t. They have too much respect for the system to weigh in, because there are times when the public and the legislative branch especially need to be reassured that this train wreck is not representative of the way the system should work.

  8. The Comma Guy says:

    Today’s story – one of the many things Judge Fuller did yesterday was give Henderson Hill a raise. He’s now making $175 / hour and Judge Fuller expects Fulton County to pay it and not get the Georgia Supreme Court involved.

    I would expect that there are several members of the General Assembly who are chomping at the bit to get back in session to start smacking Judge Fuller around. I wonder if we’re going to have Senior Judges after this next session and if they are kept, I’d imagine that they will not get paid like they are right now.

  9. Doug Deal says:

    As a complete layman, I have long questioned the practice of retaining senior judges.

    If the state wants to perpetuate the sham of an “elected” judiciary, why have these unelected, but once in the distant past elected, judges sit on the bench.

    In fact, having lost election does not completely disqualify a former judge from service as a senior judge. I think it is the legislature (if not the Supreme Court) that can remove that disability.

    As an aside, personally, I think the judiciary branches of our government have too much power, and impeachment is used too infrequently (in the US constitution for Federal judges, grounds for impeachment include “bad behavior”, not just high crimes and misdemeanors). A judge has the power to cause great harm to individuals at a whim with very little recourse on the part of the aggrieved (and I do not mean just guilty defendants). With that power, there needs to be more oversight and stricter rules on exercising their power.

  10. The Comma Guy says:

    While scared (and impressed) that I can think like a legislator, today’s news is interesting –

    King Hilton is suggesting that he might continue the Nichols case “indefinitely” because the General Assembly hasn’t signed off on his blank check. Nice thing to tell folks as they are trying to pick a jury – that all the hard work and disruptions in their life might be completely for naught.

    Also, King Hilton has authorized Open Records requests to the Fulton County Commission to see just how big the DA’s office budget is, as well as whether there have been any special outlays for the Nichols prosecution.

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