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Death-row defenders must prove effectiveness

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The director of the state group responsible for defending people facing possible death sentences has been ordered by a Superior Court judge to appear in Waynesboro, Ga., on Wednesday to convince him that the organization is capable of doing its job.

Tony O. Grubbs: Man has been held in the deaths of a couple since June 2010, but his lawyers still have asked for more time to prepare.   Special
Special
Tony O. Grubbs: Man has been held in the deaths of a couple since June 2010, but his lawyers still have asked for more time to prepare.

In an order signed July 1, Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Craig demands an explanation from the Georgia Capital Defender system about the seeming lack of any defense work by its lawyers who have been representing Tony O. Grubbs for 10 months.

Grubbs, 42, has been held on capital murder charges in the Burke County jail since June 22, 2010. He is accused of stabbing to death Ralph Gordon, 82, and his wife, Trudy Gordon, 83, in their Waynesboro home last June.

If convicted, Grubbs faces death or life in prison, either with or without the possibility of parole.

Craig, who was assigned to preside over the trial in Burke County Superior Court, wrote that he must determine whether the failure of the public defender system in the case is unique or common in the agency's work.

If there is a systemwide breakdown, the problem can be blamed on the state. If the state is to blame for delays in a trial, the charges against the accused can be dismissed.

At what was supposed to be the final pretrial hearing June 24, Grubbs' attorneys asked Craig to postpone the July 11 trial date because they were not prepared. Craig granted the motion but told the lawyers he wanted some answers about the state of capital defense in Georgia.

Craig noted that at least one other judge in the Augusta Judicial Circuit was faced with the same motion accompanied by the same legal defense "to-do" list. Kelvin Johnson's case in Richmond County has been pending since Aug. 26, 2009.

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copperhead
1035
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copperhead 07/16/11 - 01:58 am
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Now THIS is what I am talking

Now THIS is what I am talking about! This is well on the way to amnesty for murder! The lawyers are doing a FINE job! the state pays them mega bucks to do NOTHING! More government efficiency! GREAT JOB! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 07/16/11 - 09:09 am
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actually legal defense in
Unpublished

actually legal defense in georgia is what some experts are calling unconstitutionally underfunded. another shocking case of this is troy davis on death row for what seems like a cluster of lack of defense.
Thank you, danny craig. it takes someone considered tough on crime to call this out.

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 07/16/11 - 10:36 am
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As I have been suggesting FOR

As I have been suggesting FOR YEARS...Georgia (and probably the U.S.) needs a CENTRAL death penalty prosecution venue.

ONE office that all such cases are worked through, with perhaps a local assist from one or two prosecuting attys in each case as needed, wanted.

For instance:

Dude kills three people in Augusta, circumstances warrant death penalty.

That case, when investigators are finished, is sent lock, stock, and barrel to a central court center in Atlanta, where there are Judges, defense attys, bailiffs, paralegals etc etc who do NOTHING BUT death penalty work.

By statute we could declare that any appeals go STRAIGHT to the GA. Supreme Court for immediate consideration...thus eliminating YEARS in court system BS.

The juries are assembled from around the state, and housed in a state owned lodge as long as they serve, etc etc...

This makes the system far more efficient, and even handed. We have a permanent defense team, so no more accusations of "poor work/track record" will be an issue...the Judges won't be as likely to make mistakes...no more concerns of tainted jury pools, etc etc etc.

Problem fixed.

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 07/16/11 - 10:38 am
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By the way...lawyers HATE

By the way...lawyers HATE this idea, because it cuts many of them out of the process, uses staff attys instead of private practice people, and eliminates 80% of the delays that put $$$ in their pockets.

Screw 'em.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 07/16/11 - 10:50 am
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having experts on death
Unpublished

having experts on death penalty who can concentrate and give cases the time they need would probably be an improvement, although i imagine the stress of life and death everyday would lead to some burnout turnover. questions- why wouldn't the prosecution also be a permanent team? what legally would have to change to implement a plan like that?

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 07/16/11 - 10:54 am
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who would volunteer for this
Unpublished

who would volunteer for this defense team? the best and brightest? how does the judge ladder work? are more defense attorneys made judges or more prosecutors?

Riverman1
83642
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Riverman1 07/16/11 - 11:20 am
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Austin, that's not true. "If

Austin, that's not true.

"If there is a systemwide breakdown, the problem can be blamed on the state. If the state is to blame for delays in a trial, the charges against the accused can be dismissed."

If Danny Craig rules there is a state caused problem, then increased funding for the Georgia Capital Defender system has to be provided. The Public Defenders don't handle capital trials and those have always been contracted out to capital defenders. You can't have an attorney who is not qualified in capital trials acting as the defendant's attorney. Public Defenders are usually young lawyers sort of doing an internship to gain experience.

By they way, those public defenders are vastly overworked and under paid. But they would all love if the system was done away with and all cases were referred to private attorneys. These same PD attorneys would more than likely handle most of the cases under a private contract system since they know the system from the jail interviews, prosecutors and judges, but for a lot more money than what the state and counties currently spend.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 07/16/11 - 11:09 am
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thanks, riverman. i didn't
Unpublished

thanks, riverman. i didn't realize there were already capital defenders. from the one georgia capital case i've looked at, it didn't seem much of a comfort. (anyone who hasn't read about troy davis should. he's on deck now. the system is not as intelligent or responsive as we'd imagine is what i found out. you'll be surprised.)
i do remember the lawyers' paper's coverage of those across the board cuts in georgia a year or two ago. the concensus seemed to be that it was unconstitutional to cut defense in georgia any further, but i think it did happen anyway.

Riverman1
83642
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Riverman1 07/16/11 - 11:13 am
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Some of the private capital

Some of the private capital defense lawyers have not been paid. These trials take the total resources of the defense attorneys for months and months. They don't come cheap.

Riverman1
83642
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Riverman1 07/16/11 - 11:17 am
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Realize State Public

Realize State Public Defenders are only utilized in smaller rural counties. The state provides these counties in certain districts attorneys who are state employees. They are not county funded such as in larger counties.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 07/16/11 - 11:19 am
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in the troy davis case the
Unpublished

in the troy davis case the state provided defense missed deadlines repeatedly and hurts the defendant. the case got enough attention that now he has three young corporate attorneys based in dc working on it pro bono if i'm not mistaken.

Riverman1
83642
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Riverman1 07/16/11 - 11:27 am
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The Davis case is before the

The Davis case is before the US Supreme Court now. I'm not saying it's not true, but understand ineffective counsel is ALWAYS claimed after convictions for murder.

I'm not sure having corporate attorneys working on a criminal case is a good idea.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 07/16/11 - 11:49 am
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i hear you that everyone in
Unpublished

i hear you that everyone in jail says they're innocent but a couple of them are. i think the supreme court declined in march. actually his case got spoken of famously by antonin scalia. it's when scalia said that the constitution doesn't guarantee an innocent person doesn't get put to death- only that they get a proper trial. maybe the trial was proper but witnesses say they were under duress when giving statements (and in court transcripts a few of them would answer questions with, "what did i say in my statement?") which deserves some consideration since chatham county has no procedures for collecting statements. the d.a. Was the famously crooked one featured in "midnight in the garden of good and evil." almost all witnesses (which the case was based on) recanted. several plus others have signed affadavits that another guy was the cop killer. the guy who went to the station the day after the shooting to point out troy davis as the killer and also lied that he owned no gun when in fact he owns a chrome one just like was used in the murder. he's also the guy who admittedly was the one pistol-whipping a homeless man for his beer which brought the poor cop over (with the gun he says he doesn't have). he's also one of the two (and the other one is special too) witnesses who did not recant. it's a messed up case. hey, the first time the scotus scheduled to hear about this case, the state of georgia moved the execution date up to happen before that date. and did you know that ga's parole and pardons board votes secretly and takes testimony secretly?

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 07/16/11 - 01:15 pm
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An amazing amount of cases go

An amazing amount of cases go to the public defender’s office by FRAUD. The "Defendants" have more money than many, but it's with their POSSE'. They LIE LIKE RUGS on the indigent defense determination application in the FIR$T PLACE$. They should be charged with Rico Statutes of Organized crime for laundering money like the gangsters many of them are and lying to the court.. If we eliminated just half the fraud of those not qualifying for indigent defense status in the first place then we would have the money to implement AR's amazingly wise plan.

Good luck with that AR after you told the lawyers "Screw um"... ah ahah

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 07/16/11 - 01:29 pm
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To address "broad street

To address "broad street narrow mind's" concerns YES there are REAL problems in the GA Indigent defense offices but not as bad as others. Aiken county told an innocent truck driver who has never had so much as a speeding ticket that if he didn't plea to something he couldn't have done (he was trucking away katrina in the Big Easy at the time of the crime and couldn't have done it) and get ten years or they WOULD GIVE HIM LIFE, for something life could never be given for anyway. So when did the Public defenders office get the authority to GIVE A MAN LIFE??? We thought that was a JUDGES JOB and why have the authorites not prosecuted these obvious WHITE COLLAR CRIMES???

Riverman1
83642
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Riverman1 07/16/11 - 06:58 pm
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Austin said, "As I have been

Austin said, "As I have been suggesting FOR YEARS...Georgia (and probably the U.S.) needs a CENTRAL death penalty prosecution venue."

The biggest problem with that is the accused has a right to be tried where it happened unless he can't get a fair trial there and the venue is changed. You can't simply move every case to Atlanta as policy. It would be unconstitutional.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 07/18/11 - 01:05 am
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Did this circumspect jurist

Did this circumspect jurist suggest of what the unique nature of delays in this case might be indicative and of what such a finding of uniqueness might be predictive?

Woe be to him/her who might misrespresent him-/herself or his/her case to " Samuel Roland," formerly of Oyster Bay, Hyde Park and New York City, or his descendants.

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