Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Augusta defense attorney focuses on case, not guilt

Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 12:22 PM
Last updated 6:49 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

The No. 1 question criminal defense attorney Pete Theodocion is asked is how he can defend people who many in the community might have concluded are guilty.

Back | Next
Pete Theodocion has a history of high-profile cases in the area, including defending former Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean last year.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Pete Theodocion has a history of high-profile cases in the area, including defending former Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean last year.


“I really don’t think about that,” the Augusta-based lawyer said. “You can’t.”

He said he approaches all of his cases the same way and puts his best defense forward, regardless of the guilt or innocence of his client.

Theodocion used the 2010 Gulf oil spill as an example. BP officials know they are at fault, he said, but they still need their lawyers to get them the best deal possible.

“If I’m defending someone who I’m not sure they did it, or if I’m completely sure they did do it, there’s no difference in what I do,” he said. “It’s just not a concern of mine.”

Theodocion, who has been a criminal defense attorney for 15 years, does not think about whether the client is guilty because he says it only serves as a distraction from the job at hand.

A client he is currently defending, however, presents a unique challenge.

Theodocion is defending a 10-year-old boy charged with murder. The veteran attorney concedes this is a first.

“You hear people in court refer to 15- and 16-year-olds as kids,” Theodocion said. “This is a 10-year-old; everyone knows he’s a kid.”

On Dec. 30, Jennifer Albright, 31, was shot to death in her Midville, Ga., home, Her boyfriend’s 10-year-old son was charged.

“I’ve represented all types doing what I do. It takes a lot to shock me,” Theodocion said. “But when that boy comes through the door, I don’t care who you are, it stops you in your tracks, how young and how small he is.”

Having the kind of serious conversation with a 10-year-old he typically has with people who are charged with murder is not something Theodocion envisioned himself ever having to do. He has an 8-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl of his own.

“I’m not an elementary school teacher,” he said. “It’s surreal to have these conversations with him.”

Theodocion has a history of high-profile cases in the area, including defending former Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean last year. Dean, also a former Harlem mayor, was found guilty on two counts of child molestation.

“That was a really tough one to lose,” he said. “It would be easy to say I didn’t really care but, no, I was really disappointed. It was pretty devastating.”

Theodocion said he anticipates he will appeal Dean’s case and hopes to get it to trial again.

In 2006, Theodocion defended former State Schools Superintendent Linda Schrenko in Atlanta. Schrenko pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal more than $600,000 in federal funds entrusted to the state Department of Education and one count of conspiracy to launder money.

In 2002, he defended Ralph Tyrone Williams, a veteran Richmond County narcotics agent, who was convicted of conspiracy and extortion charges in a drug trafficking case.

The Atlanta-born attorney said he has no moral qualms about what he does. He thinks intelligent people understand they could be accused of a crime and need a lawyer at some point, so they understand his role.

“I think people respect what I do,” he said. “Even the most anti-crime people understand it.”

Theodocion said he became a criminal defense lawyer because he likes the satisfaction of finishing a job he started. Most criminal cases take six months to a year, whereas civil cases can drag out much longer.

“The day-to-day practice of a criminal defense attorney fits my personality better,” he said. “I like to be in court, I like to argue. I like the action.”

He said he rarely runs into anyone who expresses negative feelings toward him.

“As long as I don’t put up false testimony, there is no moral dilemma in what I do. I promise you that,” Theodocion said. ”There’s no tossing and turning.”

Comments (18) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Dixieman
17609
Points
Dixieman 01/20/12 - 03:58 pm
0
0
He is a great attorney - my

He is a great attorney - my first choice if I ever get indicted!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/20/12 - 04:11 pm
0
0
I'm sticking with Keanu

I'm sticking with Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino. I just got a feeling they can provide me with the alibi I would need. Whatever the charge.

urright
465
Points
urright 01/20/12 - 04:13 pm
0
0
A client's guilt is only a

A client's guilt is only a distraction? I really don't believe that the Founding Fathers had that in mind when they wrote the Constitution. They have a right to a defense, but for a person to put up a misleading and untrue defense--especially when the attorney knows they are guilty--is morally wrong. I can understand getting them the best deal possible, but trying to get a not guilty verdict? That's just not right.

whatmistake
100
Points
whatmistake 01/20/12 - 04:33 pm
0
0
Defense lawyers across the

Defense lawyers across the land go into court every day seeking acquittal of clients they know full well are guilty of the crimes of which they're accused. It's what they do. Few will admit as much, however, as Theodocion seems to. And lawyers wonder why they're considered among the lowest forms of life by the population in general. Then again, maybe they don't. At the risk of painting with too broad a brush, Americans understand due process. It's just lawyers like this guy with "no moral qualms" they've come to detest.

billcass
1095
Points
billcass 01/20/12 - 04:39 pm
0
0
urright: I am also a criminal

urright: I am also a criminal defense lawyer, and I get this same question all the time. What I have never understood is why people ask me how I can defend people "I know" are guilty, but they never ask prosecutors how they can prosecute someone they "know" is innocent. And it happens more frequently than you would ever care to imagine. People think (like whatmistake) that we are the "lowest forms of life" until one of their loved ones is wrongly accused of a crime.
I take great pride in what I do. I recently had a client sentenced to 20 years in prison (I did not represent him at trial) and on appeal we proved he was factually innocent. He is now home with his family after the alleged "victim" admitted she lied. But he spent four years in prison for a crime he did not commit. That is why defense lawyers are so valuable. If my client's original attorney had been better prepared and more vigilant he likely would have never gone to jail. It takes both sides to make the system work. Otherwise you have a justice system like China.

da-realist
8
Points
da-realist 01/20/12 - 05:04 pm
0
0
BTW, if you can't afford a

BTW, if you can't afford a paid lawyer your more than likely going to prison.

thewayitis
15
Points
thewayitis 01/20/12 - 09:25 pm
0
0
Interesting comments. As for

Interesting comments. As for prosecutors knowingly going after innocent parties, that is a joke. That is extremely rare. I am not saying it has never happended because human beings, regardless of profession, can be corrupt. But I have never seen it. And that type of misconduct would result in criminal charges and disbarment if discovered. That statement by billcass could be interpreted as a thinly veiled attack on our D.A. and her office. Good luck attacking Ashley Wright's credibility, or her staff. They are as stand up as they come. Mr. Theodocion is a very accomplished lawyer. Defense attorneys have their place in society. That helps balance things out. However, I hope he doesn't get too cocky about his ability to argue a case in favor of a defendant who will be convicted by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. He may be surprised the next time he cross examines a law enforcement officer or other prosecution witness aggressively, twisting words, shifting blame, and generally creating confusion and chaos with the intent of knocking the person off balance and trying to get some sort of inconsisteny in his/her statements. Cops are smarter than you think, Mr. Theodocion. You may finish cross examination and wonder why your head is spinning. It will because someone kept their cool and did not allow you to confuse them, and stood by the hard cold facts. The facts are the facts. Confusion and subjectivity have little if any place in the courtroom.

thewayitis
15
Points
thewayitis 01/20/12 - 09:38 pm
0
0
Defense attorneys have their

Defense attorneys have their place in society. The comment from a reader about prosecutors knowingly going after innocent people is ridiculous. However, many defense attorneys will take a buck to defend any client regardless of guilt, and be happy if they got off. There are some very skilled, educated, and articulate attorneys out there. There are also some very skilled, educated, and articulate law enforcement officers in this area. I am sure any of these cops (who do what they do because they love the community and the opportunity to serve) would be very confident facing any of these lawyers in court. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Subjectivity and emotion have little or no place in the courtroom, unless it is for sentencing so the jury can hear the impact the crimes had on the victims.

Riverman1
94354
Points
Riverman1 01/21/12 - 12:19 am
0
0
Thewayitis, defense attorneys

Thewayitis, defense attorneys also "do what they do because they love the community and the opportunity to serve." Everyone in the justice system is taking a buck is the truth of the matter. Law enforcement, defense, prosecutor and judge. But they also can love the community equally. Subjectivity and emotion have everything to do with human existence, including courtroom proceedings.

Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 01/21/12 - 12:58 am
0
0
BillCass, if your statement

BillCass, if your statement is true (doubtful) then action should be taken. Police don't arrest people they KNOW are innocent (they do make mistakes) and then hand them over to prosecutors who KNOW they are innocent and they prosecute anyway - that assertion is ridiculous.

However, defense attorneys do everything possible (inside and outside of the law at times) to get their clients off. Many do it for money, some because it is a game, some for the power trip of it and others for various reasons. I respect defense attorneys and many do not put forth the same strategies when dealing with a known guilty person, nor should they.

When a member of their own family becomes an addict from a dealer they got off or is killed by a DUI driver that they got off or killed by a murderer they worked a deal with from some friend in the DA's office then maybe they will understand. Getting KNOWN guilty persons off or reduced punishments is not in the best interest of society or this community.

“If I’m defending someone who I’m not sure they did it, or if I’m completely sure they did do it, there’s no difference in what I do,” he said. “It’s just not a concern of mine.” This takes a very hardened person and frankly anyone who will do anything to keep violent criminals on our streets is disgraceful.

Riverman, their is a huge differenct between the public salaires of law enforcement, prosecutors and judges as compared to defense attorneys who may make as much in one case as a police officer will make in a year.

Riverman1
94354
Points
Riverman1 01/21/12 - 01:05 am
0
0
AsItIs, I wasn't addressing

AsItIs, I wasn't addressing salaries of the parties. I personally think police officers deserve a raise although that would be pretty tough in this economic environment.

My point was in response to Thewayitis. There is a role for defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges....along with law enforcement. It's wrong to denigrate defense attorneys as it is wrong to denigrate the other necessary components of the judicial system.

Riverman1
94354
Points
Riverman1 01/21/12 - 01:13 am
0
0
I read a great book by the

I read a great book by the famous attorney Alan Dershowitz and he discussed the issue of police misrepresenting evidence. He said all involved in court proceedings knew the police made up things to get defendants convicted. The prosecutor knew it, the judge and the defense attorney. He said they all went along without complaining because they knew 99% of the time the defendant deserved what he was getting. He said he fought hard for his clients, but he didn't dare cross the line saying the police had lied because that would be too disruptive to the system. They all played the game.

carcraft
28610
Points
carcraft 01/21/12 - 07:02 am
0
0
Thewayitis- Two cases come

Thewayitis- Two cases come immediatly to mind, the Blue Devil Lacross team players who were slandered in the press and were deemed guilty until it turned out the "victim" was a completely unreliable lying drug addict prostitute and the stupid prosecuter went ahead with the case for months and should have realized the facts didn't fit the victims claims. The other is the Valarie Phlume debackle where the special prosecuter foound out who had leaked the data from the get go yet continuesd to investigate untile he got Scooter Libby. Some of these prosecutors are nothing more than little megalomaniacs!

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 01/21/12 - 09:37 am
0
0
I would throw the west
Unpublished

I would throw the west memphis three in there too. Three teens that served 18 years because they dressed different and listened to heavy metal music. There was no doubt they were railroaded and the judge in the trial was allowed to hear the appeals. It was a travesty and every court officer that stood by and let it happen should be disbarred.

BamaMan
2687
Points
BamaMan 01/21/12 - 10:02 am
0
0
Whew! That was a breath of

Whew! That was a breath of fresh air!

Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 01/22/12 - 06:46 pm
0
0
Sorry River, I gotcha now.

Sorry River, I gotcha now. As for Alan D. he may be being truthful or may be exagerating just a bit. I can not say that it does not happen but can say that I have had many opportunities to observe it if it was happening over the past 20+ years and never have. Sometimes I do belive other evidence comes up that may make you second guess your origional suspect that may not get given enough attention which clearly is wrong but I just don't see police, prosecutors and judges knowingly framing innocent people. If so, they should all be put behind bars.

TruthJusticeFaithHope
244
Points
TruthJusticeFaithHope 01/23/12 - 10:47 am
0
0
I love it ! The comments

I love it ! The comments are better than the article. Seriously. These comments are a wonderful discussion about our system of justice. Thank you.

BamaMan
2687
Points
BamaMan 01/23/12 - 03:02 pm
0
0
Mr. Theodocion is laughing

Mr. Theodocion is laughing all the way to the bank.

AutumnLeaves
10441
Points
AutumnLeaves 01/26/12 - 04:55 pm
0
0
It is his right to defend

It is his right to defend these people, but if he had any idea what kind of personal havoc people like Ralph "Tyrone" Williams created with his tsunami of corruption that sent waves of destruction over entire neighborhoods destroying the lives of innocent people in their wake as well as the people that worked for him (Tyrone), if Mr. Theodocian has a conscience (and I hope he does), he would be sickened!

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs