Court rules that accused purse snatcher is eligible for new trial

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An Augusta man imprisoned for the past decade for a purse-snatching is entitled to a new trial.

In an unanimous decision reached Sept. 18, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled Joe Wright's trial was fundamentally unfair because the trial judge, Senior Judge William M. Fleming Jr., made improper remarks during the trial.

Mr. Wright stood trial in Richmond County Superior Court in June 1995. The evidence against him came from a woman who described how Mr. Wright snatched her purse. Mr. Wright testified that the woman was lying to cover up her drug use, according to the court opinion.

After prosecuting and defense attorneys questioned an officer, Judge Fleming asked whether Mr. Wright had been advised of his Constitutional rights and if the defendant made a statement.

"He didn't want to talk to you, is that what you're saying?" the appeals court quoted Judge Fleming as saying in court.

The questions came at the end of the state's final witness.

"Such timing suggests that the intent of the court's questions and comment was to rehabilitate the state's case and make an improper implication based on Wright's refusal to provide a post-arrest statement," the appellate judges wrote.

Mr. Wright was convicted and Judge Fleming imposed the maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Mr. Wright was one of many defendants denied access to the appellate courts that The Augusta Chronicle uncovered in an investigation earlier this year.

The Chronicle examined all jury convictions over a 10-year period in Richmond County Superior Court that resulted in prison sentences of at least five years. Nearly half the defendants never got an appeal.

This year, Mr. Wright's family hired attorney Peter Johnson to appeal his case.

Mr. Wright had been trying to get an appeal for years. Though his trial attorney, who was later disbarred, started the process, Mr. Wright had been on his own since September 1996.

The Constitution guarantees everyone the right to one appeal and to an attorney to do the appeal.

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Reality
3
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Reality 09/25/07 - 01:46 am
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I hope all of the criminals

I hope all of the criminals that are let out of jail stay in Richmond county so I know where they are..

rdunaway
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rdunaway 09/25/07 - 05:13 am
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Judge Fleming is a joke,knows

Judge Fleming is a joke,knows how to use the judical system as he please and he thinks he"s God. I know for a fact that there are a great many individuals behind bars because of him that the time doesn"t fit the crime because he knows this. When is the system going to relize this. As for Peter Johnson, that"s a horse of many colors and I hope that the Wrights are happy with him. Just don"t forget he"s part of the system himself

pantherluvcik
628
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pantherluvcik 09/25/07 - 06:05 am
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20 years for a purse

20 years for a purse snatching and these people in the Atlanta area who tortured their toddler before killing him only got 15yrs.

getalife
4
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getalife 09/25/07 - 07:25 am
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Sentence seems excessive!!

Sentence seems excessive!! Some murderers get less time!! Did he commit other crimes?

BoldTruth
0
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BoldTruth 09/25/07 - 08:00 am
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So I guess that justice is

So I guess that justice is not blind nor fair.....20 years for snatching a purse, way to excessive.

law
0
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law 09/25/07 - 04:45 pm
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Don't do the crime if you

Don't do the crime if you can't do the tme

getreal2
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getreal2 09/25/07 - 06:22 pm
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20 years for purse snatching

20 years for purse snatching is outrageous unless there is something that we don't know about.

TommyBoy
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TommyBoy 09/25/07 - 07:16 pm
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Where or where was the public

Where or where was the public PRETENDERS office to help this guy!?!?!!!?!! That system is a joke.

blackjack30
1
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blackjack30 09/25/07 - 07:51 pm
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kittyluvcik probably needs to

kittyluvcik probably needs to look at the homeboy's rap sheet!

cajunnana2000
2
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cajunnana2000 09/25/07 - 11:29 pm
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To blackjack30----have you

To blackjack30----have you seen his rap sheet ?

t of i
25
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t of i 09/26/07 - 01:58 am
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There we go, good and kind

There we go, good and kind Americans, jumping to the defense of someone without having all of the facts, just a smidgen of information--the same traits we are daily beaten down for by the world, by the way. The paper prints a small portion of the story, the next thing you know, there are 100 comments, interpretations, explanations, etc. But remember, the AC has not given us all of the facts. It can't. It's the newspaper. Unless you are inthe jury, sitting there at the trial, you really are not in a positiion to decide.

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