Preston Smith’s Reported Cases

Maybe I did it wrong as I haven’t used Westlaw in a while, but I can’t seem to find any reported cases involving Preston as the named attorney for a plaintiff or defendant.

If my Westlawing is accurate, would he be the only guy running for Attorney General without reported cases as a lawyer before the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court?

56 comments

  1. Icarus says:

    I have yet to focus on any candidates in this race, but my working assumption (yes, I know what happens when I assume) has been that Sam Olens was not nor has ever been a trial attorney. Has he had cases before the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court? If so, I would have to take his candidacy more seriously.

    If Preston has not, I’ll have to take his less so.

    • MightyPencil says:

      Sam was certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and American Board of Trial Advocacy. The former requires a showing of many trials, judicial recommendations and a written exam. He’s tried cases throughout our State, in both State and Federal courts. Sam also has an AV rating which is the highest rating given an attorney and has made the “Super Lawyers” list for numerous years.

      Sam is a great candidate and highly qualified.

      • Mozart says:

        “but my working assumption (yes, I know what happens when I assume) has been that Sam Olens was not nor has ever been a trial attorney.”

        Icarus, you appear to be taking on the qualities of a lightening rod planted in the ground at random intervals. 🙂

      • Part-Time Atlanta says:

        I have consistantly heard the same thing. Of course it’s up to the voters to decide whether or not that matters.

    • Dem in the Burbs says:

      According to a Westlaw search, Sam Olens has had 17 reported cases before the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court.

  2. Isn’t AG more of an administrative job, at least day-to-day? I can’t recall Thurbert Baker ever going to court -at least not in the way a local DA might on a high-profile case. Isn’t it more managing the State’s position in appellate matters, & issuing opinions, and legal research? I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s a job that calls for Clarence Darrow.

    • Doug Deal says:

      I think it is important for leaders to have some knowledge and experience regarding the area of expertise his organization oversees. Olens has a background as a personal injury and malpractice attorney, not exactly my favorite areas of law (or many others I would imagine). You could even argue that heath care reform was in a large part passed due to his chosen profession driving up costs.

      One of the reasons I have decided to favor Max Wood was because one of the big issues facing the state now is ethics. The AG is responsible for prosecuting all crimes involving public officials and those involving doing business with the state. Wood is a former prosecutor and seems to be making this role a priority. One role that has been sorely atrophied under the current AG.

      Further, he has certainly raised a huge amount of money. I hate when politicians use money raised as a reason to vote for them, so after reading his website about being the “front-runner” I looked into where his money was coming from. A huge percentage is from big time Democratic donors. This is probably a good thing in a general election, but in a Republican party, it makes one wonder what they think they are buying? Are his ideas more in-line with the Democrats, or is it they think he will be the easier candidate to beat in November? Personally, I think it has to do with the fact that Olens is “one of them”, in that he is in a profession dominated by Democrats and those people are his peers. Nonetheless, it makes a lifelong Republican like me weary when Democrats are driving a huge part of the fundraising effort for a candidate in a Republican primary.

  3. Mama Bear says:

    The short of it is that Max Wood is the most qualified candidate for this office. Sure, Sam can come in with his big war chest full of money and try to hire every political consultant in Georgia to keep them from working for Max or Preston. And Preston can blow in on the 11th hour train right after a euphoric high from his “read my lips, no new taxes” speech, but at the end of the day, Max is the candidate that will represent the people’s interest the best.

    I like Preston and I think he has served his base well. I just think he got a little trigger happy.

    I found the Rosetta Stone poll interesting showing Max one point ahead of Sam. Could he be the wild card to prove that the science of politics sometimes provides a syntax error? I sure hope so.

    • oompaloompa says:

      Errr…I think you have the 2000 version there. That was back before he became a prosecutor. I heard his wife Suzanne speak at one of the GOP women events and she said when Max did defense work he hated it, thus the switch to being a prosecutor later.

    • RuralDem says:

      I’d think Wood’s actual campaign website would be a better reference to his history as an attorney:

      http://woodforattorneygeneral.com/index.php/about

      “Appointed by President George W. Bush as United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. (2001 – 09)”

      The one that’s listed on that website is, like oompaloompa said, probably outdated.

      He’s listed as a prosecutor in each listing on his site except for this:

      “General Practitioner, Macon, Georgia (1997 – 2001)

      * Special emphasis on criminal and civil litigation and bankruptcy.

  4. macho says:

    The law is a very diverse field, where only some of it involves trial work. Just as the AG does everything from preparing state contracts to prosecution, it would be foolish, and unfair, to hold it against one attorney who does not specialize in trial work, just as it would be to hold it against another for not specializing in contracts.

    • Icarus says:

      When Olens first announced, I’m pretty sure I wrote (at least in comments) that the legal community would never support a non-lawyer (meaning someone who had never practiced law, but held a law degree) as AG. My understanding was that Olens has a JD, but was a “businessman”. I don’t recall being challenged in any way on his background, so my misinformed opinion has lingered.

      If he has practiced law and earned income as an attorney, I think that helps his potential for election much more than I had given him credit for initially. Beyond that, some people may want a prosecutor, some may want contracts law, etc. But I think “practicing attorney” is a minimal qualification to have had in some form on an AG’s resume.

      That said, I know little about all three of the Republican AG candidates. Frankly, I know more about Teilhet and Hodges.

      I’ll learn more about each before I come close to weighing in here on the front page.

      • Charlie, Sam was in private practice for most of his career. Keep in mind that he has only had the full time job of Cobb County Commission Chairman since the 2002 special election. Before that, he was district 3 commissioner which is considered a part time job and Sam actively worked as an attorney.

        As a bit of irony, I was working for Sam’s opponent in that Commission Chair race and looked deeply into his record as an attorney and could not find anything to use against him in that race.

        Most of the AG’s job does concern civil and not criminal suits and most of it at the appellate level. For those who are not familiar with appellate cases, no new evidence is brought forth to the court. All the court does is look at what happened in the trial court. Then they can uphold the trial court’s decision, throw it out, order a new trial (if new evidence is found) or a combination of all three (we uphold the court’s decision on the first issue on appeal, we overturn the court’s decision on the second issue, and we order a new trial to determine the third issue).

      • macho says:

        I’m not necessarily voting for Olens, and don’t know if Olens has enough trial experience or not. I’m just saying that one lawyer is not more qualified over another lawyer based on trial experience. Since the topic has come up, I pulled this excerpt from Olens’ bio, on his website:

        “Sam Olens has practiced law in Georgia for more than 25 years, successfully representing clients in both state and federal courts. Olens has been a partner of Olens & Ezor, PC since 1983. He is a registered mediator/arbitrator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution. Olens is rated “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest accolade that confirms a highly respected, ethical member of the Bar. Olens was board certified in Civil Litigation by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in 2000 and is a Fellow of the Lawyer’s Foundation of Georgia.

        He is admitted to the Georgia and District of Columbia Bars, the Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia and the United State Supreme Court.”

        • Not hard to get admitted to DC. You just have to be a lawyer in good standing for 5 years and a member of the DC bar has to motion you in. Each year, my law school takes a bunch of alumni to DC for that purpose.

          I think each candidate brings unique strengths to the AG’s race. Sam brings great administrative skills which I don’t think the others can touch. Just look at the fact that in less than 2 weeks after he stepped down as Chairman, the board of elections website was hacked j/k. Max brings a strong understanding of the federal system and how to work through it. Preston brings the experience of how to work with and through the legislature. I have my pick, but there is not one I wouldn’t vote for.

  5. In The Arena says:

    The AG debate at Park Tavern a little while back was very informative. Telheit made no sense whatsoever. Olens seemed uncomfortable. Wood shared his experiences rebuilding the Iraqi judicial system. Hodges put on a tough front, and his answers were solid. Hodges and Wood would have to be the frontrunners based on debate performances and credentials.

    Max Wood just published a book called Iraq: The Real War. I have not had a chance to read it yet but I have heard that it is very informative and dispels a lot of myths about Iraq.

    Hodges might get a lot of bipartisan support out of SWGA.

    There were 3 good candidates already in the race before the Senator jumped in. He would have been better served running for LT.

  6. Groseclose says:

    At least this one:
    Receivables Purchasing Co. v. R & R Directional Drilling, L.L.C., 263 Ga. App. 649 (Ga. Ct. App. 2003)

  7. I found 19 citing references on WestLaw, only one case that was reported in an official reporter – 3 others that were reported by WestLaw online, 2 trial pleadings, and 13 Docket references.

    Take from that what you will.

  8. Atticus Grinch says:

    If one wishes to elect an administrator as AG or if one wishes to elect a politician based strictly upon their ability to serve as a mouthpiece for certain elements of the political right, then Preston may be your man. If you want a legal scholar or someone with significant trial or appellate experience or someone that is truly respected by his legal peers, then Preston is the least qualified candidate in the field. If anyone disputes that, I would like to know the number of jury trials in which he has served as lead attorney during his entire career or the number of times he has appeared in any court as an attorney since he was elected to the Senate.

  9. Melb says:

    Actually Hodges does have a lot of SWGA support and was re-elected 3 times. He has raised money from all over the state, but if you look at his disclosure you can see that he is supported by his home base (and not just PP). One of the reasons he has a lot of support from the Albany area was his ability to be an effective D.A.

    When he became D.A. violent crimes against children were below 50%! The work that he did as D.A. raised the conviction rate against these crimes to near 100%.

    Hodges has the experience as a leader who has the drive and direction we need in the Attorney General’s office. I am proud to support him!

    • Icarus says:

      You can probably sell that BS most places, but here at Peach Pundit. I’d suggest you check Pete’s excellent 3 part series on Hodges. We’ll probably be bringing that one up frequently. The man makes Ox look ethical.

    • MouthoftheSouth says:

      You understand that the AG has nothing to do with trial level criminal prosecution right? The only trial level work the AG does is civil work, like defending workers compensation cases.

      I don’t suppose you want to talk about that, though, do you?

      • Mozart says:

        No, actually, Mouth, they do not “get” that at all. No matter how many times the system of DA circuits in this state is explained to people like Doug Deal and Ron Daniel, they do not appear to get that concept at all.

        • My name is Ron Daniels, if you are going to propagate distortions – at least attribute them to me correctly.

          And I think I made a point, many days ago that you are in fact referencing, that the AG’s Office handles both Civil and Criminal cases. I even drew a comparison to the US AG’s Office, that does the same exact thing. Shocker of the year, I know. You just can’t seem to “get” the whole “I like Olens, I think he’s qualified but I like Max more” viewpoint I hold. I’m not sure how I can better explain it to you. I will ask you kindly, however, that if you are going to go around inserting my name into your posts that you either correctly spell my name or properly summarize the point you are trying to attribute to me. Either one works.

        • Doug Deal says:

          My wife is a prosecutor and I know how the DA circuits in this state work very well. It is you two who seem misinformed about a few very important parts of the responsibilities of the DA’s office. Perhaps you think Thurbert Bakers negligence is a what the next DA should emulate.

          The AG is responsible for the prosecution of all cases involving official business of the state. HINT: what is the big problem in Atlanta right now in regard to members of our government that begins with an “E”? Read this from the list of duties from the AG website and tell me how this just applies to civil case:

          Prosecuting public corruption cases where criminal charges are filed against any person or business for illegal activity when dealing with the State of Georgia.

          or this

          Conducting special investigations into questionable activity concerning any state agency or department or a person or business that has done business with the State of Georgia.

          or this

          Initiating civil or criminal actions on behalf of the State of Georgia when requested to do so by the Governor.

          In addition, the AG does have a number of “civil” cases in Federal court that are a result of criminal prosecutions. Do you know what a habeas corpus petition is? It is classified as a civil action, but it is completely related to criminal prosecution.

          Further, as I write this, a crazed convicted drunk driver is filing a nusance case in Federal court (pro se) against my wife in her capacity as a prosecutor. This means that he is suing the state. Guess who’s office is responsible for defending this action? Yet again, another civil action, that is really related to a criminal case, where the expertise and experience as a prosecutor are invaluable.

          Perhaps you two are right. Instead, maybe what the state really needs now is an ambulance chaser when corruption is rampant in Atlanta. When health care reform is passed due in large part to malpractice abuse raising the cost of insurance, a malpractice attorney who made his living off such cases might just hit the spot. With Olens, we can have both.

          Besides, he is extremely popular with the Democrats already, as evidenced by his campaign finance disclosures. Althought they won’t be voting for him during the primary, I am sure they will come back and vote for him in the general election.

      • Melb says:

        Actually, I don’t mind talking about that either. Hodges has worked on the civil law side for the past few years. In fact, he is the only Democratic candidate to argue before the Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court. Part of the reason his D.A. experience is relevant is because it shows he is a leader.

        Hodges leadership skills and his experience will help him give the right direction to the attorneys he will be in charge of when they are taking cases to the Ga Ct. of Appeals or the Ga Supreme Court.

  10. Republicangirl says:

    I saw the pole and see that 58% of rebulicans are still undecided about the AG race. There is still a lot of room for any candidate to rise above. Why are there so many undecided and what are the thoughts now that there is a 3rd (R) candidate in the race? Will we have to wait until Preston starts his campaign to see where he stand in the race? Which of the candidates are more well known throughout the state and has made more of a name for themselves for those voters who go by name recognition and not by what a candidate stands for?

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