Man to get new trial, judge rules

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A judge granted an Augusta man a new trial this week, seven years after he was convicted.

Judge Neal W. Dickert ruled Tuesday that David Walker, 43, was denied a fair trial because of ineffective assistance of counsel. His trial lawyer was disbarred, and the attorney first appointed to represent him was convicted of tax fraud.

In November, attorney John R. Taylor volunteered to take over Mr. Walker's appellate case.

Judge Dickert inherited the case last year from Senior Judge Albert M. Pickett, who presided over the trial and sentenced Mr. Walker to 20 years.

Mr. Walker was charged with first-degree arson. He is accused of setting fire to an ex-girlfriend's property Sept. 18, 1999.

Mr. Walker filed numerous motions on his own after his conviction in Richmond County Superior Court. He asked for an attorney's help, but his pleas went unanswered until last year.

"Unfortunately, some of these cases fell through the gaps before the public-defender system was created," Mr. Taylor said.

He was able to prove to Judge Dickert that Mr. Walker's trial attorney failed to investigate the case or follow through on Mr. Walker's alibi claim.

The district attorney has 30 days to decide whether he will appeal Judge Dickert's decision or proceed with another trial against Mr. Walker.

Mr. Walker's case is one of those examined by The Augusta Chronicle in an investigation of the legal system's failure to ensure that poor people can appeal their trial convictions - a constitutional right in the United States.

The Chronicle looked at 339 cases in its investigation of trial convictions over a 10-year period. Almost half of those people, who were sentenced to five or more years in prison, have never had an appeal.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 06/30/07 - 05:47 am
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The AC deserves a big

The AC deserves a big atta-boy for this. Righting old wrongs can take place with this type of civic action. All too often government entities miss taking what appears to be obvious action and it is up to members of society to be the watch dog that catches these misteps. Thanks AC.

getalife
4
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getalife 06/30/07 - 07:01 am
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While some people may want an

While some people may want an appeal after a trial, some of these criminals realize they were convicted on solid evidence or witnesses and maybe don't feel an appeal would do them any good. The appeal process is over used and over abused, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in the appeal process, retrials and keeping death row prisoners alive for many years before execution. While I applaud the AC for keeping the public notified and informed on many different issues, I don't think everyone on your list of 339 want or in some cases deserve an appeal!!

tombee
35
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tombee 06/30/07 - 08:30 am
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Excellent point, getalife.

Excellent point, getalife. After all, it is possible to actually be guilty though some find that hard to believe.

SeekJesus
1
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SeekJesus 06/30/07 - 09:41 am
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And after all it is possible

And after all it is possible to actually be innocent though some find that hard to believe.

Carleton Duvall
6308
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Carleton Duvall 06/30/07 - 09:41 am
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There is no such thing as a

There is no such thing as a guilty prisoner. If you don' believe me, ask one.

fuggie
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fuggie 06/30/07 - 09:44 pm
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It's very sad that we are so

It's very sad that we are so quick to judge others on the surface and not be willing to look beyond the outside perimeter. I speak from experience that I was wrongfully convicted and requested an appeal on numerous occasions, and all my pleas went unanswered. Well, I'm no longer incarcerated and have recently discovered that all my pleas went unanswered because my trial transcript is missing. My case was clearly a case of unlawful arrest, false arrest, unlawful entry without the presence of a search warrant and accusing me of a crime committed by a person with a similar name. If only the authorities had taken my fingerprints and compared them with the actual person they sought, my life for the past 10 years would have been different. As to evidence, there was none in my case, even though officers of the court conjured up false evidence. I had a trial and pleaded not guilty, and even though I was convicted, I walked into prison with the same dignity and integrity that I possessed before my incarceration and that I possess today. I continue to pursue my vindication and the evidence I have secured today clearly cites police corruption and prosecutorial misconduct, and perjury.

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