A funny ring to it

Theft case underscores the importance of ethics

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We don’t know if Alexia Davis will be convicted of a crime. But neither is she the innocent victim they’re trying to make her out to be.

The assistant public defender here was booked recently for theft of lost or mislaid property after she allegedly found an expensive ring in a restaurant parking lot and failed to turn it in or notify authorities until they released surveillance video of the incident.

Nearly two weeks elapsed between the Feb. 7 find and Davis’ coming forward on Feb. 19.

Again, we don’t know if Davis is guilty of a crime. We’ll let the courts sort that out.

But she certainly shouldn’t be held up as a martyr of some kind, or any paragon of ethics.

A small group of supporters held a prayer rally for Davis on the Augusta courthouse steps Saturday – primarily for the media – as if she were somehow the target of an unfair prosecution.

Supporters have decried the criminal justice system’s attack on Davis’ “impeccable reputation and her motives,” and one supporter lamented, “We really want to know why in the world this young lady is in the predicament she’s in.”

That’s pretty easy.

She didn’t turn the $10,500 ring in to Cracker Barrel for safekeeping. The owner might’ve still been dining. Nor did she alert the sheriff’s office, as an apparent companion reportedly told a restaurant employee would be done.

Let’s be clear about this, in the face of trumped-up indignation: In no way did she do the right thing – until prompted to by the release of the surveillance video.

It isn’t ethical when you’re forced.

We don’t know what Davis was thinking or planning to do. But in any other similar situation, the time lapse between finding the ring and turning it in would make one wonder if the person was simply going to wait and see if anyone claimed it.

In our hearts, when confronted with such a precious lost item, we would know the answer to that question: The owner would want it back. We shouldn’t stay quiet and hope that the owner just couldn’t find us or the place where it was lost.

Again, we don’t know what Davis was thinking. But her odd actions give rise to questioning her motives. That’s no one’s fault but her own.

Ethical actions close the door to such speculation. Turning it in immediately to the restaurant or to police would have left no room for doubt about her intent. And she certainly wouldn’t have been charged with a felony, as she is now.

Imagine her scenario being posed in an ethics exam in law school or anywhere else. Do you really suppose that one of the ethical choices would be to take the ring and not say anything for close to two weeks? Of course not.

In contrast, consider the case of Pat Wesner of Massachusetts: She saw about $11,000 fall out of an armored car recently. She helped pick it up for the company, whose employees weren’t aware it was missing.

She sure could’ve used that cash, too: She has a son in Afghanistan, another in college and another who’s disabled. She also works for a nonprofit, and the latching mechanism on her car’s trunk doesn’t work.

“I can’t even put $1 in my pocket without feeling guilty about it,” she said. “It’s not my money.”

Nor did she sit on it to see if somebody claimed it.

Then there’s the case of Billy Ray Harris of Kansas City. A donor recently dropped a diamond engagement ring in the homeless man’s coin cup without his realizing it. He later had it appraised – and was offered $4,000 for it by a jeweler.

Harris could’ve used that money. He also could’ve assumed it was a purposeful donation, intended for him. Instead, he returned to the spot – and a day later the relieved owner showed up to claim it.

“Harris thought of taking the money,” one news report said, “but said that his grandfather raised him to be honest. He knew in his heart he couldn’t take the money.”

Think about this, too: In the Augusta case, the rightful owner of the ring was allowed to believe for nearly two weeks that it was history. Can you imagine the anguish?

It’s a shame the finder in this case didn’t take a more ethical path. It’s a bigger shame that some would now have you believe she’s a victim for it.

Comments (35) Add comment
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Fiat_Lux
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Fiat_Lux 03/12/13 - 08:56 pm
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@Specsta 8:17pm

Probably the best comment on here, by far. That's the bottom line.

Aubie03
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Aubie03 03/12/13 - 09:45 pm
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You can appropriate to one's own use

by keeping possession of an item you know to belong to someone else thus denying the rightful owner his/her rights in the property. That's the bottom line.

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 03/12/13 - 10:12 pm
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Gleefullness?

Not hardly. And as for Neal...much of what the public knows about the case they first learned from my show.

I was FAR harder on him then I have been on this lady, who I really have not been hard on at all, to tell the truth.

As I JUST wrote a few hours ago in a column coming later this week...the entire case was put together based on the outrage of the OTHER black female atty who was originally implicated in the case. Her name is Katrell Nash, and she is the one who is in the security video talking to the clerk. She is also the lady who reportedly testifies that Davis told HER she had turned the ring in.

...imagine Nash's shock when she saw that she (HERSELF) was "sought after" in the case of the lost ring that she was told had already been turned in!

Fiat_Lux
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Fiat_Lux 03/12/13 - 09:50 pm
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Proving intent is going to be pretty hard, Aubie,

which is what is likely to get this case tossed. Two months, maybe. Two years, more likely. But two weeks, no way.

Aubie03
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Aubie03 03/12/13 - 09:56 pm
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It's a pretty easy case to prove.

If you know the law. It's almost impossible to defend it based on the law, but there are always other ways to defend a case when the law isn't on your side.

nocnoc
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nocnoc 03/12/13 - 10:06 pm
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Guilty is as Guilty Does

Darn I hate it when Austin is right.

Since there is no such thing as Johnny Diamond Seeds planting Diamond plants in parking lots. Any dumb fool knew from the second they picked it up they FOUND something of value or else they would have tossed it away as junk. In this case it has not been answered why it was held on to for 10+ days.

An according to several sources, the ring was shopped around at more than 1 jewelry store and Pawn Store to check its worth.

Then there is that little timing problem about the return, that blows a hole through the credibility of the party in question. By waiting until the day a Security Camera MUG shoot was released sure did not help the case.

The OCGA law I quoted in the earlier articles (O.C.G.A. 16-8-6) does apply.

Just any NON-ARC County DA, or NON-ARC Solicitor to verify.

I say NON-ARC for good reasons, after what we seen and based on Hyper-Media & Circus events.

dahreese
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dahreese 03/12/13 - 10:07 pm
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The usual editorial bunk.
Unpublished

The usual editorial bunk.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 03/13/13 - 07:44 am
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Thinking causes jail time??

Well I need to be in jail then,,...at one time I wanted my ex husband to get hit & run over by an 18-wheeler....I think that feeling lasted for 3 months or so....
Soo if I'm missing yall will know my THINKING got me in deep trouble..

Fiat_Lux
15137
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Fiat_Lux 03/13/13 - 10:16 am
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There's the "special knowledge" that Austin loves to hold on to

You could have come out with all that information at the start of the discussion instead of acting like you have access to information not allowed to the rest of us plebeians.

Often enough, you hint at it like there are confidentiality issues or legal restraints involved, in which case, you shouldn't even be part of the conversation. If you have information that can be made available to the public, don't act like you are the grand poohbah and keeper of all good gossip.

You can deal with the fall-out from non-anonymous public sharing.

fedex227
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fedex227 03/13/13 - 10:07 pm
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In the debate I found this to be an interesting comment ...
Unpublished

Mr. Rhodes states ... "As I JUST wrote a few hours ago in a column coming later this week...the entire case was put together based on the outrage of the OTHER black female atty who was originally implicated."

Why did you feel the need to mention the other OTHER lawyer was black as well? Am I the only one that finds this kinda of a strange thing to say? Probably.

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