GaPolitico.com gets it so very, very wrong

But, in the end, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Anyway, take a few minutes and read this post from there about the trials and tribulations concerning Jason Shepherd’s previous run in with Johnny Law. It’s fine, I’ll still be here while you are gone……Okay, you read the post? Swell. Now, let’s get to a few of the points the poster was trying to make…inaccurately.

Here’s the first EARTH SHATTERING REVELATION™:

Shepherd claimed, ““I voluntarily went through a diversion program before it even went to court, in an effort of good faith. However, the charges were totally dropped because there was no truth to them.” (http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2010/09/27/the-candidate-the-name-change-and-the-domestic-violence-arrest/)

The records tell a different story. Documents obtained from the Cobb Magistrate Court show that Shepherd appeared in court twice on charges listed as “Simple Battery – Physical Harm.”

After the first appearance, on July 14, 2000, the judge entered an order stating, “After hearing evidence in the above styled case and probable cause having been found, the defendant agrees to comply fully with the following conditions in lieu of prosecution.”

The order lists four “General Conditions of the warrant being placed on hold,” such as avoiding “vicious habits, especially alcoholic intoxication and narcotics and other dangerous drugs,” as well as a two “Special conditions.”

The special conditions are that Shepherd “treat for violent behavior” and that he avoid further contact with the victim.

Contrary to Shepherd’s assertion that the case was dismissed, the court retained jurisdiction over the matter. “It is further ordered the Order of the Court, and the defendant is hereby advised that the Court may at any time, revoke any conditions of this warrant, if any condition is violated.” Shepherd was ordered to return to court in three months.

All righty, then. Above we are told that Shepherd was evidently lying by saying that he ‘didn’t go to court’ on these charges because he actually did have to appear before a Magistrate Court Judge. That’s swell and all, but I’ve got a news flash: if prosecution were actually going to have proceeded, the matter would have been handled in State Court, not Magistrate Court.

And what were the things he had to do in order to have his case disposed with? He had to not hang out in areas with thugs, stay away from the alleged victim, and take some anger management classes. Big whup. The point is that he volunteered to do these things, just like the man said. He could have refused (he would have been a doofus, but he could have said ‘no’).

But here is where the conspiracy gets even more thick:

Shepherd’s contention that “charges were totally dropped because there was no truth to them” is disputed by the finding of probable cause by the court on July 14 and the solicitor’s representation on October 13 that probable cause exists.

The form used by the solicitor in closing the case includes an unselected option to close a matter because of “insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, the solicitor advised the court that there was probable cause to prosecute further.

The court did not enter an order dismissing the charges. “The clerk is requested to enter this case as closed,” according the solicitor’s filing.

Shepherd admitted on his website that he entered a pretrial diversion program. The website maintained by the Cobb District Attorney explains its pretrial diversion program stating. “The Offender must admit guilt.” Successful completion of the diversion program “will result in dismissal or nolle prosequi of the charges.” In Shepherd’s case the charges were not dismissed but were nolle prossed, which simply means that they were not pursued further.

Oh, where’s Ben Matlock when you need him? Let me explain ‘probable cause.’ It relates to having a reasonable belief that a crime has occurred. It must be based on more than guessin’ or prayin’. So, if you have an alleged victim tell a police officer that she was hit (even if there is no physical evidence), then the officer has probable cause…for an arrest. NOT, I note, for a conviction. Because probable cause does not equal proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard at a trial.

Thus, when the solicitor said that probable cause exists, it’s a meaningless statement that is a CYA for the officer. Because, seconds later, the prosecutor did, point in fact, dismiss the charges. When a solicitor says that ‘probable cause exists,’ it’s a protection for the police department so that someone can’t come back and file a time wasting lawsuit. It basically announces that “there was sufficient reason for the officer to go ahead and take out the warrant but this case isn’t going anywhere so we’re going to dump it.” Otherwise, the record could be interpreted as the solicitor saying that the officer goofed in taking out the warrant, which opens the door to litigation.

Because, if you note, the state dropped the case seconds after announcing that blather about probable cause.

Dropped = dismissed = nolle prosequi.

Again, a nolle prosequi is a dismissal. Because it states that the prosecutor isn’t going to proceed with the case any further. Like he or she is done with it. Finished. Complete. Moving on. Outa here.

And one more thing. Don’t forget this bit from GaPolitico.com:

The website maintained by the Cobb District Attorney explains its pretrial diversion program stating. “The Offender must admit guilt.”

That may be. But the District Attorney works in Superior Court with felonies. Here, we are dealing with solicitor’s in State Court handling misdemeanors. These are different programs we are talking about and the fact that the District Attorney requires an admission of guilt is quaint but meaningless since neither the DA, Superior Court or Superior Court Diversion Program were involved in this matter in Magistrate Court. Even the letters forming the names of the court are different, see?

M-A-G-I-S-T-R-A-T-E C-O-U-R-T
S-U-P-E-R-I-O-R C-O-U-R-T

Nope, they don’t match up at all (except for the ‘court’ part, but you get my drift).

All GaPolitico.com has shown is that they didn’t go to law school. Which, truth be told, isn’t exactly a bad thing for the soul.

Next time, guys, run your “paperwork” by an attorney to set you straight first.

9 comments

  1. MouthoftheSouth says:

    “Probable Cause” for an arrest is what you defined above. “probable Cause” for a magistrate in a preliminary hearing is where the sufficiency of the charges are tested and the test is whether or not the defendant can be found guilty at trial. It is not the same thing.

    So you are wrong in your definition above.

    Second, a nulle pros is not the same as a dismissal. A prosecutor can prosecute at a later time if a case has been nulle prossed, but if a case has been dismissed it cannot be brought again (at least on the same evidence). The above is still an over-generalization, but at least it’s right.

    So they are not the same.

  2. MouthoftheSouth says:

    Something else bothered me about what Jason has been saying. He says, and his web site claims, that he prosecuted cases for the solicitor’s office. He said he did this Pro Bono. I am not sure how you can work Pro Bono for the Solicitor’s Office, but if he claimed he prosecuted criminals in courts of law, which he says, he would have to be a member of the Georgia Bar, which he is not.

    I assume he means he worked in the solicitors office under the third year practice act, but he wouldn’t have been lead counsel there.

  3. inlimine says:

    Not sure of the purpose of this topic, but in my eyes it only made things sound a lot worse for JS.

  4. Steve says:

    I support Shep… but Pete is splitting hairs so thin, he’s probably doing Jason more harm than good by “helping”. Georgia Poltico’s community is only a fraction of Peach Pundit’s size, so the more helpful move is to ignore their bait and let the thing fizzle out.

  5. JasonW says:

    Actually, you’re not exactly correct. I work for a public defender’s office in their Magistrate Court division. I can tell you that “probable cause” hearings, or Pre-lims, are done IN MAGISTRATE court for both misdemeanors, and felonies.

    And he’s correct in the assertion that being Nolle Prossed is not a dismissal. It is and it isn’t. Technically, what separates a Nolle Prossed case from a dismissed case is the fact that dismissed case can not be brought back. Nolle Prossed cases are essentially “temporarily” dismissed, or dismissed unless they find other facts or evidence that might not have been known at the time.

    And Mouth, to “prosecute” a case doesn’t require one to be “Lead Counsel”.

    Also, technically the charge is a Misdemeanor of a High and Aggravated Nature. Which is a little bit more serious than a regular misdemeanor.

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