Does this ring true?

Should a lawyer who didn't seem to follow the law be allowed to practice it?

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If you lost a cherished piece of jewelry, whom would you want to find it – a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker or a lawyer?

Most likely the lawyer. Jokes about the law profession notwithstanding, the best lawyers embody a respected professionalism and, more importantly, a firm knowledge of the law. That implies a firm knowledge of right and wrong.

But here’s what happened to one cherished piece of jewelry.

In 2013, Jane Prater of Thomson lost a $10,500 diamond ring. It was found, in the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel in Evans, by Alexia Davis, an attorney in the Augusta public defender’s office.

And she kept it.

After a couple of days, Davis took the ring to a jeweler to have it appraised. While at the jeweler, she chatted with a uniformed Richmond County deputy, but didn’t mention the ring.

Davis kept the ring for almost two weeks, until the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office released the restaurant’s surveillance video, hoping someone could identify the people at the scene. Another public defender in the video was identified by name, but investigators were led to Davis, who said she found the ring – but initially refused to give officers a formal statement.

Further prying by another investigator got enough facts from Davis to file a felony charge: theft of stolen or mislaid property.

Bear this in mind: None of the investigators’ findings were proved false. Davis found the ring, kept it, had it appraised and kept sitting on it until widely disseminated video essentially shamed her into coming forward.

And now the justice system has refused to prosecute.

Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ashley Wright recused herself from the case because of conflict of interest, so it was transferred to Middle Judicial Circuit D.A. Hayward Altman.

His decision Thursday? Case dismissed.

“She was remorseful for all the errors in judgment she had made,” he said. “She didn’t get any special treatment.”

Really.

Looking at the undisputed facts of the case, how does this decision not exude the glaring sheen of professional courtesy – of the judicial system taking care of its own?

Two sentences in Davis’ apology letter to the ring owner are particularly revealing. The
italics are ours:

“The good thing from all of this is that I have learned a valuable lesson about finding other people’s belongings, and so have other people,” Davis wrote. “Turning it in to the sheriff’s office rather than holding on to it until someone came forward would have alleviated this whole situation.”

Regarding Davis’ claim of learning “a valuable lesson”: She’s just now learning this? A law-school graduate in her early 30s? There are kindergarten playgrounds filled with younger people who better grasp the basic concepts of property rights.

And she can’t claim unfamiliarity with the specific charge she faced. She has represented clients in two cases on that identical charge of theft of stolen or mislaid property.

Davis came forward to give the ring to authorities only after the restaurant video had been splashed all over the news and social media, and the fate of the lost ring could no longer be called into question.

“Had she taken the simplest, most obvious steps to get the ring back to the owner, it would have been successful,” sheriff’s Investigator T.R. Digsby said. “Instead, she did nothing.”

As for Davis’ conclusion that turning the ring over to deputies “would have alleviated” the situation: Notice she didn’t say that turning it in was “the right thing to do,” or “what I should have done in the first place.” Davis is wrongfully, shamelessly couching the incident as an inconvenience to her. That doesn’t convincingly sound as if Davis is, in Altman’s words, “remorseful.”

Today, Davis still is in the public defender’s office.

For heaven’s sake, why?

She flouted one of the very laws she swore to uphold, and soiled her ethics by hanging onto property that wasn’t hers. At the very least, her law license should be suspended.

Every citizen should be held to the same standard of accountability before the law. That’s why, dating to the 15th century, depictions of Lady Justice show her blindfolded. It represents objectivity. The lady shouldn’t be allowed to peek under the blindfold to wink at a select few – especially lawyers who should know better than anyone about the law and what constitutes its violation.

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GiantsAllDay
9424
Points
GiantsAllDay 07/09/14 - 02:09 am
9
6
Ah, the judicial system. It's

Ah, the judicial system. It's a pretty big club, isn't it? And they have no shame about it either. The cops, attorneys and judges are saying to the rest of us, "sure we let each other skate all the time, just what are you going to do about it?" The fact that we pay their salaries and generous pensions makes them laugh at us all the more.

specsta
6402
Points
specsta 07/09/14 - 02:23 am
4
15
ACES, Leave It Alone

Does everyone who makes a mistake have to suffer, be condemned, vilified and made a mockery?

There is this concept called forgiveness. Try it sometime.

myfather15
54869
Points
myfather15 07/09/14 - 05:34 am
12
2
"the best lawyers embody a

"the best lawyers embody a respected professionalism and, more importantly, a firm knowledge of the law. That implies a firm knowledge of right and wrong."

I'll have to somewhat disagree!! I only say somewhat, because many lawyers DO have a knowledge of right and wrong; and many of them throw that knowledge straight in the trash!! Sorry, I just don't buy the whole "It's their job" excuse, when they're lying to defend their clients, AND attacking innocent victims and witnesses to make their case. When it comes to immoral behavior, some do the bare minimum, but some will take it as far as they possibly can!! So I'll have to disagree, based on personal experience. In my OPINION, lawyers and honor, integrity and ethics, just don't mix!!

carcraft
25257
Points
carcraft 07/09/14 - 06:26 am
7
1
I can't bash lawyers to much,

I can't bash lawyers to much, when I need one they are my best friends and I want a good one in my corner.

myfather15
54869
Points
myfather15 07/09/14 - 06:46 am
12
0
specsta

Forgiveness starts with admitting what you've done, repentence and with a pure heart knowing you'll try your best to never do that again!! I agree with this letter that it appears she has zero repentence, but I guess that's between her and God; only He knows for sure!!

But, having FELONY charges, not only reduced, but completely dropped; is a luxury that I'm sure quite a few suspects would LOVE to have!! The next time the DA's office gets a felony theft of lost or mislaid property case; will they afford them the same deal?

myfather15
54869
Points
myfather15 07/09/14 - 06:52 am
8
1
carcraft

Don't get me wrong; there are some decent lawyers out there. Those who do their job as best they can!! Some review the case, knowing their client is guilty and try to work a plea deal for them; which is what they're suppose to do. But many, even believing their client is guilty; will still aggressively defend them, even attacking the character of victims, police and witnesses. I've actually known of a few who offered their clients plea deals, and the client refused; so they suggested to their client to get other representation and that is honorable.

I guess lawyers are no different than any other profession; some are honorable and some are not. With some, it's all about the money and how much they're getting paid to defend this person. But, it's no different than any other profession where greed comes into play!!

deestafford
26595
Points
deestafford 07/09/14 - 07:41 am
12
0
It would appear to me that as a minimum...

It would appear to me that as a minimum she should be fired from her job because of a lack of integrity. She can't be entrusted to do the right thing...especially when no one is looking.

seenitB4
85748
Points
seenitB4 07/09/14 - 07:48 am
3
12
All about the value..

She FOUND a ring---she didn't swipe it off a finger...

ok, let us say she found a 5 dollar bill....she picked it up & thought...why bother with this, I'm late for work & will take care of it later...she didn't take care of it later....Would yall still want her FIRED??

IMO...she has been punished in the news...

curly123053
4570
Points
curly123053 07/09/14 - 08:27 am
5
2
Liars at Best

I too have a low regard for defense lawyers. They lie and attack victims knowing their clients are totally guilty. I have very little to no respect for defense lawyers at all after the 3 times I got subpoenas while working EMS.

hoptoad
6607
Points
hoptoad 07/09/14 - 08:33 am
9
0
Ms. Davis needs to be outed

Ms. Davis needs to be outed as much as possible. It's bad enough she didn't get fired, but to just hush up about this and go on like there's nothing serious going on is not the right thing to do in this case. She is supposed to be a defender of justice.

Shoving this under the rug only serves to create ill will toward all public figures. Those who commit crimes, big or small, should suffer consequences.

BTW, this is just more example of why we need to quit electing lawyers - Washington is full of them.

hoptoad
6607
Points
hoptoad 07/09/14 - 08:36 am
8
0
Seenit

A $5 bill is not traceable back to any one person unless there was a video of it falling out of someone's pocket!

And $10,500 is a long way from $5.

She didn't just set it aside to take care of later and forget about it. She had it appraised and still made no effort to do the right thing.

seenitB4
85748
Points
seenitB4 07/09/14 - 08:48 am
3
9
I get what happened

She was a bad, bad girl & got a lot of bad, bad press....

I have seen fake rings that looked like the real thing.....really.

IMO & mine only, it seems....she has paid a high price for that mistake.

itsanotherday1
42228
Points
itsanotherday1 07/09/14 - 09:08 am
3
2
Lawyers

Let's keep it in perspective; the slimey "one call that's all" types and criminal defense types comprise a minority of the legal profession.

historylover
7414
Points
historylover 07/09/14 - 09:30 am
2
5
I consider myself to be very honest

but I don't know what I would have done had I found the ring. I am sure I would have gone into Cracker Barrel and left my name and number in case someone called to claim the ring. I do not think I would have thought to call the police. Nothing against law enforcement, but I would know that as long as I had the ring it would not be stolen by someone else along the way. Now that I think about it, I would probably put an ad in the lost and found section of the local paper, requiring a detailed description in order to claim the ring.

I'm not sure why this woman has been so demonized. Not every lawyer knows every single law.

GiantsAllDay
9424
Points
GiantsAllDay 07/09/14 - 09:37 am
7
5
SeenitB4, I agree with you

SeenitB4,
I agree with you about 91.7% of the time and respect your opinion 100% of the time. Your opinion: because of the bad press she has paid a high price for her "mistake". My opinion: she is sleeping just fine at night.

fedex227
11179
Points
fedex227 07/09/14 - 10:28 am
4
7
Agree with you Seenit ...
Unpublished

" ...she has been punished in the news ....she has paid a high price for that mistake." Be done with it. No need to beat it into the ground.

dichotomy
32136
Points
dichotomy 07/09/14 - 11:08 am
8
0
Specsta...."There is this

Specsta...."There is this concept called forgiveness. Try it sometime."

This from someone who writes tirades about citizens and politicians who express conservative opinions and legitimate concerns about presidential policies.

The fact is this woman was a lawyer who ABSOLUTELY knew the laws covering this situation who failed to follow the law and who obviously, to me at least, intended to keep the ring. I put the PROSECUTOR who chose to let her slide in the same category as a cop who knows his partner is taking bribes and does nothing. This is simply a professional courtesy cover-up with possibly other connotations.

Another classic example of why many people have little or no respect for lawyers, judges, and the legal system in general.

flipa1
1251
Points
flipa1 07/09/14 - 02:19 pm
4
2
Most lawyers are honest beleive it or not,. But there are enough

Most lawyers are honest believe it or not,.

myfather15
54869
Points
myfather15 07/09/14 - 12:41 pm
7
2
historylover

If you would have left your name and number; chances are you wouldn't be in criminal trouble. The law states you must make REASONABLE effort to return the property to the rightful owner. That doesn't neccessarily mean that you have to call LE but you must make a reasonable effort. If you left you're name and phone number, then retained the property I believe you could articulate your intentions. She did NEITHER!! She send a friend in to ask if anyone had reported a ring missing, NOT to report finding a ring!! That, in my opinion shows INTENT to keep the ring herself!!

http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-16/chapter-8/article-1/16...

myfather15
54869
Points
myfather15 07/09/14 - 12:45 pm
7
2
Can anyone explain rationally

Can anyone explain rationally why this case wasn't presented to a grand jury for indictment??? Why not allow WE THE PEOPLE to decide whether she deserves to have the criminal case true billed or no billed?? This would have been the simpliest and HONEST way to handle the case!! Place it on the grand jury docket and allow them to hear the details!! If they true bill it, the case goes foward; if they no bill it, it's over!!

fedex227
11179
Points
fedex227 07/09/14 - 01:16 pm
3
4
mf15 ...
Unpublished

It's sorta like the way cops let other cops off for exacting crimes that would normally be presented before the courts. It happens.

seenitB4
85748
Points
seenitB4 07/09/14 - 02:23 pm
4
3
Thanks GAD

For agreeing with me that much..more than hubby does,,heh

Bizkit
30803
Points
Bizkit 07/09/14 - 02:31 pm
6
0
Well in a perfect world

Well in a perfect world justice would be blind, but it isn't it shows favoritism all the time. Money, position,or power seem to gain a blind eye-everyone else justice sees just fine.

Bizkit
30803
Points
Bizkit 07/09/14 - 02:31 pm
0
0
Well in a perfect world

Well in a perfect world justice would be blind, but it isn't it shows favoritism all the time. Money, position,or power seem to gain a blind eye-everyone else justice sees just fine.

Bizkit
30803
Points
Bizkit 07/09/14 - 02:41 pm
4
0
Obama has turned a blind to

Obama has turned a blind to immigration laws,but now suddenly wants to execute an immigration law that should,t be enforced because it isn't,t serving the purpose. It will requiring billions-that could build a fence-like the fence the govt is building in New Mexico. Does Ovama want a Cloward Piven scenario? Because of all times to suddenly want to execute a law he picks a law that should not be implemented ,but deport just like Mexico. Obama will ride this disaster train and then when disaster strikes blame Bush cause he signed it into law. Obama picks the laws he want so execute so why suddenly execute a law that could bankrupt the nation

jimmymac
37210
Points
jimmymac 07/09/14 - 03:23 pm
1
0
THIEF
Unpublished

This women got the benefit of doubt that no average citizen would ever get. They'd be bound over to the grand jury, indicted, tried, convicted and given 10 minutes of community service as a first time offender if they were tried in an Augusta court room. By the way GAD I agree with your first comments 100%.

myfather15
54869
Points
myfather15 07/09/14 - 04:55 pm
2
1
fedex

I've personally known numerous police officer's cases to be given to the grand jury!! As a matter of FACT, every use of deadly force I've ever seen, although found justified by the GBI, has been taken to the Grand Jury for them to hear the evidence; just to completely clear the case!!

Many smaller criminal cases where officer's were suspected of thefts, assaults, etc; have also went to the grand jury!! If there is nothing to hide, why not let a grand jury decide the outcome? Instead of making an internal decision to drop felony charges??

No doubt, just as you have, I've also heard of and seen on TV, situations where obvious police misconduct has went unpunished and I disagree with it. I also completely undertand AND AGREE that we should be held to a higher standard of professional conduct. But should a public defender not be as well?

Darby
25098
Points
Darby 07/09/14 - 05:30 pm
4
0
"There is this concept called forgiveness. Try it sometime."

Specsta - I'm sure you mean as well that folks should not be now, in the 21st Century still holding on to racial issues like slavery and reparations.

Right?? Sounds good to me.

I will if you will....

harley_52
23004
Points
harley_52 07/09/14 - 07:44 pm
2
0
"Can anyone explain rationally....

....why this case wasn't presented to a grand jury for indictment???"

I think I can.

Those in the positions to take appropriate actions chose to do otherwise. They protected her. They made sure she was treated differently than would be any other citizen not so well "connected."

There. That's a rational explanation, but I agree the way she was treated was irrational. However, it will all soon be forgotten and the elite will learn once again they are above the law.

Dixieman
14425
Points
Dixieman 07/09/14 - 09:15 pm
3
0
This is not the end of it

The fat lady hasn't sung on this one yet.
The Georgia State Bar could STILL bring suspension or even disbarment proceedings against her for this incident and the Georgia Supreme Court could reprimand, fine, suspend or disbar her. (I hope they both have the courage to pursue this). This is devastating and fatal to a legal career. So this is not the end of this case, folks....

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