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Lawyer charged with not returning diamond ring found in parking lot

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 12:33 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 1:31 AM
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An Augusta lawyer surrendered to authorities Tuesday morning on a felony charge in connection with a lost diamond ring.

Davis  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Davis

Alexia Dawn Davis, 31, surrendered at the Colum­bia Coun­ty Deten­tion Center on a charge of theft of lost or mislaid property, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. Davis was booked into jail Tuesday morning and released after posting a $2,500 bond, Morris said.

Davis, an attorney in the Office of the Public Defender in Augusta, is accused of not returning a diamond ring she found in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel restaurant Feb. 7.

Jane G. Prater, 62, of Thomson, reported the ring missing Feb. 12. She told deputies that she lost the ring, worth about $10,500, in the parking lot about 7 p.m. Feb. 7. A server at the restaurant said a woman who was with Davis went inside and asked what to do if she found a ring.

“(The) woman opted not to leave it with Cracker Barrel with the manager in control of lost and found and made a comment that it would be reported to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office,” Morris said. “And it never was.”

Morris published surveillance video from the restaurant in hopes of identifying the woman Feb. 19. The same day, nearly two weeks after the ring was lost, Davis took the ring to Richmond County authorities.

A warrant was issued for Davis for theft of lost or mislaid property. The charge is a felony because the ring is worth more than $1,500, Morris said. He said that by law, when “a person comes into control of property that they know to be lost or mislaid, they must take reasonable measures to restore the property to its owner.”

“That did not occur in this case,” Morris said.

Katherine Mason, the public defender for the Augusta Judicial Circuit, said she’s not allowed to comment on personnel matters.

Tanya Jeffords, one of four attorneys representing Davis, released a statement on behalf of her client Tuesday:

“No matter what shadow the Sheriff and the District Attorney’s office tries to cast upon Ms. Davis’ impeccable reputation and her motives, the legal fact is that she did not appropriate the ring for her own use, which is the crime this statute is intending to cover. When she learned who the owner was through the postings online from the Sheriff’s office, she promptly turned it in. She knew it was valuable but she had neither sold it nor wore the ring as if it was hers.”

Paula Frederick, the general counsel for the Georgia Bar Association, said no disciplinary action will be taken against Davis unless she is convicted.

“If she is convicted of a crime, that is a violation of the rules of professional conduct,” said Frederick, who does not know the details of Davis’ case.

Frederick said that if Davis is convicted, the bar association will ask the Georgia Supreme Court, which has the authority to discipline lawyers, for an “appropriate discipline.” If Davis is convicted of a felony, Frederick said, the bar association would likely ask for Davis to be disbarred.

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seenitB4
88072
Points
seenitB4 02/26/13 - 07:28 pm
6
0
People forget

I forgot & left a teen at a shoppng center before...I dang sure could forget a ring that I picked up......
THis article makes YOU guilty for FINDING something.....attempt to get it to the rightful owner.....a felony is crazy.
Did you actually steal the thing.....& if I had something so valuable..I wold spend some time looking for it.....even under cars...

GiantsAllDay
9693
Points
GiantsAllDay 02/26/13 - 07:46 pm
6
0
SeenitB4

You have a point. This is one of those cases where the defendant should take her case to a jury of 12 of her peers and see if they will unanimously agree that she is guilty of a felony.

AutumnLeaves
8038
Points
AutumnLeaves 02/26/13 - 10:01 pm
2
0
itsanotherday

itsanotherday, it was onethickdiva that brought up the finders keepers... line. I haven't drawn any conclusion about guilt or innocence. I sure hope that she hasn't been falsely accused, because being falsely accused is a devastating feeling and has long-term effects on one's confidence and sense of security as well as reputation, personal and professional. But if she intended to do wrong, she shouldn't be a public defender, or should at least face the proper legal consequences. As a public defender, she should know better on every level.

oldfella
620
Points
oldfella 02/26/13 - 10:26 pm
3
0
HOLES IN THE STORY?

Wow...if we the people without legal training are finding a lot of holes in this whole story, imagine what her fellow lawyers are coming up with? I don't see how she won't walk away from this incident without a hitch.
That said, IF she is guilty of this yet doesn't actually violate any law, it still shows a lack of decency. 99 percent of people will return anything they find, or at least has been my experience.

concercitizen
340
Points
concercitizen 02/26/13 - 10:26 pm
2
0
So, the moral of the story

So, the moral of the story is, if you find something laying on the ground, act like you fell down, fall reasonably close to the item, make a big deal out of getting up, and conveniently pick the item up. Then take the item to an out of town pawn shop, and live happily ever after. Or do the right thing, and act totally uninterested, and go about your business.

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 02/26/13 - 10:34 pm
3
0
I'm confused...

The article states: "Morris published surveillance video from the restaurant in hopes of identifying the woman Feb. 19. The same day, nearly two weeks after the ring was lost, Davis took the ring to Richmond County authorities." If Davis took the ring to Richmond County authorities, what is the issue?

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 02/26/13 - 11:41 pm
4
1
Just An Opinion

We are required to take an Ethics class the third year of law school just FYI. There is also a separate ethics bar exam required in most states (Georgia is one of them) prior to sitting for the Bar exam. This wouldn't be covered by either specifically, but the concept is certainly a part of our profession. To be honest, had she tried to find the owner in a similar way the lady who found the Evans High graduation ring did last year at the Water Treatment Plant, she wouldn't be charged. The story says she turned it in after 2 weeks. The question would then be was that long enough for her to attempt to take steps to return it to the rightful owner (probably so). Personally, I would trust a lawyer over the manager of a Cracker Barrel any day, but that's just me. I'm sure there is another side to this story. This lawyer has a good reputation, and serves our Circuit for very little money given the level of her education. Let's see how this plays out, and I echo the sentiments of the prior posters who hope the AC will follow-up and clear her name if she did nothing wrong.

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 02/26/13 - 11:57 pm
4
1
They will also have to prove

she appropriated the property for her own use, i.e. she was wearing it, tried to pawn it, etc. The Code Section is O.C.G.A. 16-8-6 if anyone wants to read the actual law. Just google it.

just an opinion
2645
Points
just an opinion 02/27/13 - 12:08 am
8
2
Local Lawyer

You're reaching. She turned it in after the surveillance video was released showing her face. And as far as trusting a lawyer over a business manager, come on, you really think most people will agree with you on this?
As far as your second post: she had it appraised, what do you think her next step was going to be?

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 02/27/13 - 12:30 am
4
2
JAO

The law says nothing about the implications of an officer publishing surveillance, as to how long one has to turn something in. Did you read the law? He could have published it the next day and it would not be relevant.
The article does not seem to say she had it appraised...Did I miss that? Sometimes these articles are edited by the AC. Was that in a previous version?
The crime requires two elements: she has to have appropriated it for her own use without first taking reasonable measures to restore the property to the owner. That's it.

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 02/27/13 - 12:34 am
4
3
JAO

And yes, after dealing with lying managers who make false statements day in and day out to protect their business, I would trust Joe Neal Jr. over 99% of them, unless of course you are talking about Chick-fil-a. Those guys are solid. To that end, under Georgia property law, the lawyer has the right to keep the ring over the manager because she was an invitee on the property, not a trespasser. Under property law, the finder of an object that is obviously lost (not placed in a location the true owner would reasonably leave it) has rights to the property over anyone else in the entire world other than the true owner. This is separate from the crime she is charged with. She didn't break the law by NOT giving it to the manager at CB. She may have broke the law by NOT taking reasonable steps to find the true owner prior to appropriating the ring for her own use. Prove your case to me though, I want to hear more!

just an opinion
2645
Points
just an opinion 02/27/13 - 01:09 am
7
0
Very simple

Why didn't she just turn the ring into law enforcement immediately?

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 02/27/13 - 01:11 am
4
2
She was under no obligation

She was under no obligation legally to do that as far as I know.

Dixieman
15290
Points
Dixieman 02/27/13 - 01:19 am
3
0
3000000 POINTS

"A person commits the offense of theft of lost or mislaid property when he comes into control of property that he knows or learns to have been lost or mislaid and appropriates the property to his own use without first taking reasonable measures to restore the property to the owner." OCGA 16-8-6. Key questions in this case: "knows or learns" is a strict test, not just "has reason to know". Then "appropriates the property to his own use" which might not include just holding on to it. Then "reasonable measures to restore the property" which leaves a jury to decide what is "reasonable". Lots of problems for a prosecutor here...I still want to reserve judgement until all the facts come out. I am curious why she has four lawyers, and why she waited two weeks before turning it in.
-------------------------------
Yes, ethics classes are mandatory in law school and ethics questions are on the bar exam everywhere. But dishonest people still become lawyers (like any other occupation). This is a general comment and NOT directed at Ms. Davis!

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 02/27/13 - 01:34 am
4
1
I think it's possible she

I think it's possible she waited 2 weeks before turning it in because she did not know who it belonged to until Morris published the video. At that time, according to her attoney's statement, she learned the true owner's identity. Again, she had no legal obligation to turn the ring in to the Cops, Managers at Cracker Barell, or the Easter Bunny as far as I know. It wasn't Morris' or Whittle's ring.
JMO- did you find where she had it appraised?

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 02/27/13 - 01:37 am
2
0
Can't wait to see the 8 page

Can't wait to see the 8 page exclusive in The Jail Report tomorrow. They love it when lawyers get in trouble!

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 02/27/13 - 01:43 am
3
1
The Ring Was Returned - What's The Problem?

Any court that decided to proceed with a case against Davis would become a laughing-stock. First, GA Rep. Earnest Smith makes Georgians look like fools on an international level with his Photoshop bill, now the laughter once again has a chance to continue if Davis is prosecuted for turning in a lost ring!

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 02/27/13 - 02:55 am
2
2
But, if it were you.....

...that lost something as valuable and sentimental, wouldn't you want someone to return it if they found it? I know I would, because I lost a very beautiful diamond and sapphire ring. Went back where I had been, put up lost notices at several places offering a reward, even put an ad in the Savannah newspaper and our little local paper in Effingham County....never heard a word. I really did love that ring..................Let me tell you, the woman that found the ring in this article, she knew what she had found! A woman knows a real diamond(s)!

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 02/27/13 - 02:59 am
1
1
Ethics?

Everyone has ethics, to some extent(I hope). But, if you have morals, you will live those ethics!!

Young Fred
17613
Points
Young Fred 02/27/13 - 09:43 am
1
2
Let's see... government

Let's see... government employee...sense of entitlement...
We all now what an honest person would do...

shihtzuheaven
11
Points
shihtzuheaven 02/27/13 - 04:11 am
4
2
Shame on Ms. Davis for trying to get away with it.

How would Ms. Davis feel if the situation was reversed and she had been the one to lose the ring in the parking lot?? What is odd is they were in Columbia County, but said they would turn the ring over in Richmond County?? Sounds kinda fishy to me.

What Ms. Davis was hoping is that no one would report the ring missing or lost at the Cracker Barrel and that she would get to keep the ring. To think she holds a public position. I guess Ms. Davis has no morals, because the right thing would have been to turn the ring in at the Cracker Barrel. I am glad that she got arrested, because it is obvious by the story that she was trying to see if she could get away with keeping it first. Good Try Ms. Davis, but KARMA will ALWAYS prevail.

peace4784
117
Points
peace4784 02/27/13 - 07:25 am
0
0
Let he that is without sin
Unpublished

Let he that is without sin cast the first stone. The comments posted thus far are either self righteous or hypocrisy. No one is morally innocent. Many probably have not come to a complete stop at a stop sign, or have driven through a red light, or have exceeded the speed limit at some point in their life. Another hypocritical law enacted by religious zealots. Our local, state, and federal governments are full of lawyers and educated people who have bankrupt our country by running up deficits over trillions of dollars. Instead of arresting them fools, the average citizen is harassed over questionable, petty issues, in which more tax money will be squandered to adjudicate the case. Our society is crumbling because local, state, and the federal officials are wasting tax money on trivial matters such as this. Now we know why Rome fell.

scoobynews
3855
Points
scoobynews 02/27/13 - 08:02 am
3
1
Wow!

It is sad to see how many of you are quick to say "finders keepers" which to me reminds me of my old childhood days. Aren't we adults who know right from wrong?? I once misplaced a wallet my dad gave me when I was a teen and there was really only one place I could have left it. I went back to the gas station where I last had it and of course no one had seen it. To this day I have never forgotten that wallet and to me it would be priceless if it was to be returned. What is even worse about my situation is that I had my drivers lisence in the wallet so there was NO excuse for not returning the wallet to me. In this case the woman who found the ring should have given it to the manager of Cracker Barrel or taken it to the sheriff's department. This is plain old common sense. The supporters of what this woman did shows how sad our society has become. We don't know how that ring came off but I can tell you if you have an already lose ring and you wash your hands without drying them real good it could have easily been lost. This is a true case of Karma though because just the other day on CNN a homeless man found a ring placed by accident in his change jar and he waited at the same location for the woman who lost it to come back. When she did he returned it. The woman and her husband raised wanted to give him a reward of a $1000 but after donations came in it was almost $100K. Just goes to show you if you do good then good will be returned to you. If you do bad then bad is what you will get.

shihtzuheaven
11
Points
shihtzuheaven 02/27/13 - 08:14 am
1
1
Karma will always prevail!!

Yes, it is good to see that others out there know what Ms. Davis did was wrong and that others believe in Karma, as I do. For what scoobynews, wrote, I totally agree with. I hope that Ms. Davis loses her job, but she probably won't. That is politics for you though. I will pray for Ms. Davis, that she one day learns right from wrong and if this should ever happen again, she will do the right thing.

Bizkit
32114
Points
Bizkit 02/27/13 - 08:48 am
1
0
Sounds to me the woman with

Sounds to me the woman with Davis broke the law-she didn't turn it in to the manager. Perhaps Davis realized the fauz paux and kept it to make an effort to return and then actually did. No good deed goes unpunished. The other lady has a good case against her for giving it to the manager, but Davis actually returned it-which is what the law states-make a good faith effort to return it.

Watermedic
292
Points
Watermedic 02/27/13 - 08:50 am
2
2
Let me get this straight. Ms.

Let me get this straight. Ms. Davis is a public defender right?

Why would you guys say she has no morals? She has to have morals to take on some of the cases she represents in court.

Most of the people here need to get off of their high horse and step back to reality. If I had lost a ring of that value, there is no way in heck I would have left without finding it!

Alos in todays society, Ms. Davis' possession may have been the safest place for the ring!

urright
465
Points
urright 02/27/13 - 09:35 am
3
1
??

Why are we blaming the victim? If I have my car warming up in the street and someone takes it, it's okay as long as they bring it back within two weeks? Finders keepers, you know. I shouldn't have warmed my car up, I suppose. She's an attorney. She knew better.

JRC2024
9063
Points
JRC2024 02/27/13 - 09:39 am
3
0
I would have told the manager

I would have told the manager I had found a ring, left my name and phone, then left with the ring and waited for a call. When I got the call I would have to have a picture from the caller and a description. I probably would have als left my name at the sheriffs office. The ring would have stayed in my possession until the owner called.

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 02/27/13 - 10:17 am
0
0
Yeah, lots of complications

Yeah, lots of complications with the case. I find it interesting that "Locallawyer" is not firm about whether there is or isn't a requirement to turn the lost item into the police. I wonder if he wants to commit one way or another on that question?

I also note our expert, seasoned lawyer, on the this board didn't touch that issue either.

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