Judge labors over 'speedy trials'

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When Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. realized earlier this month that the clock was ticking to get a couple dozen criminal defendants tried or face the mandatory dismissal of the cases -- which included everything from drugs to murder -- he went into a full court press.

The Richmond County Superior Court judge commandeered a courtroom and got another judge to help him try cases. By week's end, attorneys had tried one case before a jury and worked out all but two or three of the others.

The judge kept at it, however, trying to whittle the work load. On Saturday while others slept late or attended to household chores, Judge Blanchard and attorneys with pending motions in his cases were working. He also informed attorneys that any more unresolved motions in cases set for trial next week will be dealt with at 5 a.m. Oct. 27.

"Judge Blanchard is marching, and we're following," said Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus, the lead prosecutor assigned to the judge's court.

Last week, the judge said, he had been shocked to see how many of his assigned cases with motions for speedy trial had been filed since July. From the date such a demand is filed, the case must be tried within two terms of court -- in Richmond County that's about 20 weeks -- or the case is dismissed.

Augusta Judicial Circuit Public Defender Sam B. Sibley Jr. said there are a number of reasons for filing a speedy demand for a client, starting with innocence.

"Imagine, if you can, sitting in jail, unable to make bond and you are telling your lawyer 'I am innocent. I want a trial,' " Mr. Sibley said.

The individual cases are tagged by the clerks' office and by the prosecutors, but normally the cases are not grouped together as Judge Blanchard did earlier this month.

Two of the speedy trial demand cases before the judge are murder cases.

Theodore Sharp and Celisa Hamilton are accused of murder in the June 9 deaths of Herman M. Cadle, 51, and Freeman Lawrence, 59.

Mr. Fogus said the speedy trial demands filed on behalf of Ms. Hamilton and Mr. Sharp mean the clock runs out at the end of the year.

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

TRIAL DEMANDS

According to the Richmond County Superior Court Clerk's records, speedy trial demands were filed this years in 16 cases before Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. The other four Superior Court judges who preside over criminal cases only have six speedy trial demand cases total.

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NEone
6
Points
NEone 10/14/08 - 02:03 am
0
0
Doesn't everyone deserve a

Doesn't everyone deserve a speedy trial?

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 10/14/08 - 02:27 am
0
0
We as citizens should deserve
Unpublished

We as citizens should deserve speedy executions if so designated by the court system. Judge Blanchard should
be commended for his efforts to honor the speedy trial rules
and not just let the case be dismissed. Thank you Judge
Blanchard!

JimCox
7
Points
JimCox 10/14/08 - 05:50 am
0
0
The judge that helped

The judge that helped deserved to be mentioned by name. I wonder why the Chronicle felt it necessary to omit that detail from the article?

Riverman1
90713
Points
Riverman1 10/14/08 - 05:55 am
0
0
Whoa, Sam Shibley is the one

Whoa, Sam Shibley is the one who forced this issue. He did it because the DA's office is not plea bargaining in a reasonable manner and cases are building. Their intent is to let inexperienced ADA's take cases to court for experience and they are taking defendants to trial who should never be in court. Judge Blanchard is showing his anger with the public defenders for filing the speedy trial motions when he should be laying the blame on the DA's office. Saturday court and 5 AM meetings hurt the public defender's office much more than the DA and he knows it. I would respectfully submit that Judge Blanchard alleviate the problem by throwing out half the cases quickly. Let the ADA's find another way to "practice." The Chronicle missed the real story.

rahsheedleetawanmoumood
0
Points
rahsheedleetawanmoumood 10/14/08 - 06:24 am
0
0
Shibley is filing these

Shibley is filing these speedy motions in the hopes the cases will miss the two session requirement and be dismissed, end of story.

Riverman1
90713
Points
Riverman1 10/14/08 - 06:29 am
0
0
LIke I said, the Judge is mad

LIke I said, the Judge is mad at Sibley. However, you miss the point if you don't realize the DA's office has taken a change in course under Wright that has caused this matter. Under Craig, things moved along smoothly.

SMHwhatamessthisis
0
Points
SMHwhatamessthisis 10/14/08 - 07:15 am
0
0
they might as well hand out

they might as well hand out deals.because they are wayyyyy back up..

oneconservativetoanother
5
Points
oneconservativetoanother 10/14/08 - 07:45 am
0
0
The public demands the court

The public demands the court system to work efficiently and effectively and it seems that our DA and Judge seem not to want to try cases they can't win. Every defendant has the right to their day in court and have proper representation for their defense. A speedy trial is the least the PD office can do to get the cases to trial. I agree to get rid of the cases that have no basis of fact and get on with the matters that need to be challanged straightway. Get off their do nothings and get more than one case out of 100 done from a court calendar. The Judge knows as well as the DA the exact date all speedy trial demands are filed. It is public record and on the certificate of service. Do you really think he was shocked? I think not. The Chronice is always missing the real story by only posting what the DA successfully prosecutes. You never hear when a defendant is found innocent or that the charges were bogus and a resolution of a lessor offense is the proper disposition.

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 10/14/08 - 08:17 am
0
0
Perhaps if the DA's office

Perhaps if the DA's office had not fired some of it's more experienced lawyers back in the summer (fired because of ??? it just wasn't working out????).... they would not have to be "training" new ones.

DMac_357
1
Points
DMac_357 10/14/08 - 08:18 am
0
0
Seems as if the judge and his

Seems as if the judge and his clerks have a problem with setting priorities. It doesn't matter whether Sibley is filing the motions in the hopes that they'll miss the 2 terms of court, it's up to the judge to get them done. It seems that this judge has been sleeping while others have been working. I wonder if there are other judges in the same predicament?

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 10/14/08 - 08:47 am
0
0
You certainly made some
Unpublished

You certainly made some thoughtful comments there, Jesuslovesyou. (8:45AM) Right on target.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/14/08 - 09:03 am
0
0
Jesusloves A couple of years

Jesusloves A couple of years ago either the AC or the Spirit did a story on convictions and about 35% of the accused were found innocent. I think those 35% should have been paid lawyer wages,out of the DA budget for their time in jail! Thats the only way to make sure that justice is fair!

soldout
1280
Points
soldout 10/14/08 - 09:39 am
0
0
God bless Judge Blanchard; a

God bless Judge Blanchard; a good man who knows how to get it done.

oneconservativetoanother
5
Points
oneconservativetoanother 10/14/08 - 09:41 am
0
0
The justice for all is meant

The justice for all is meant to be exaclty what it says. It is not for only those who can afford an attorney. For all of those who sit in jail, and can't make bond, the family has to go through agonizing struggles while the innocent sit waiting for trial. They sit and sit - and the jail is as overcrowded as it ever was, yet no trial date is set. Days turn into weeks and weeks into months before the case ever sees the light of day. Someone in charge needs to SPEED up these trials. So, how else are they supposed to get on a calendar - wait for the DA to decide when and if...geese....

celticfiveo
12
Points
celticfiveo 10/14/08 - 10:14 am
0
0
the public defenders office

the public defenders office attempts to create a log jam within the system by filing many speedy trial demands and as many motions as possible to tie up the system and bog it down. The only one who pays here is the client, not everyone is guilty just like not everyone is innocent stop tying up the courts and think of the clients that need the help.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 10/14/08 - 10:34 am
0
0
On the other hand, a

On the other hand, a recidivist drug trafficker arrested in February of THIS year, has had his speedy trial and only been sentenced to four years.

Riverman1
90713
Points
Riverman1 10/14/08 - 10:59 am
0
0
"the public defenders office

"the public defenders office attempts to create a log jam within the system by filing many speedy trial demands and as many motions as possible to tie up the system and bog it down."

If that were true you would have been reading about it before. It isn't.

get.the.beam.out
0
Points
get.the.beam.out 10/14/08 - 11:00 am
0
0
The Chronicle says that 16

The Chronicle says that 16 speedy trials have been filed in Judge Blanchard's cases. What percentage is that of his total criminal caseload? And I wonder how long is the average waiting time in jail before trial.

Thatsmyjob
0
Points
Thatsmyjob 10/14/08 - 11:03 am
0
0
The whole court system is a

The whole court system is a bunch of crap. Working for an attorney has opened my eyes to a lot. We have client's who were arrested over a year ago and still havent had hearings becuase they keep getting continued by the soliciotor or officers. Nothing is set in stone about the way anything is handled over at grand 401!

Thatsmyjob
0
Points
Thatsmyjob 10/14/08 - 11:06 am
0
0
Oh yes....and the DA's office

Oh yes....and the DA's office could also use some help with getting their acts together.....notifying attorney's of calendar calls by emails???? Someitmes we even have to call the judges ourselves to find out what is going on!

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 10/14/08 - 12:21 pm
0
0
How long should an alleged

How long should an alleged misdemeanor offense languish without being addressed?

Margot
0
Points
Margot 10/14/08 - 12:27 pm
0
0
The public defenders don’t

The public defenders don’t have time for such nonsense. Whatever motions they present have to do with trying to defend their clients.. and meanwhile “presumed innocent” is a joke, no need for evidence. Rumors and gossip gets a conviction.

rahsheedleetowanmoumood
0
Points
rahsheedleetowanmoumood 10/14/08 - 01:33 pm
0
0
Terryjr, bullshiet!

Terryjr, bullshiet!

Margot
0
Points
Margot 10/14/08 - 01:50 pm
0
0
Rahshieeet! it's not, sadly

Rahshieeet! it's not, sadly it's true.

rufus
2
Points
rufus 10/14/08 - 01:54 pm
0
0
The judge that helped was

The judge that helped was most likely a senior judge and Sandy Hobson has a history of slamming them. You never get the truth with her stories so quit looking for it.

Georgiais1
0
Points
Georgiais1 10/14/08 - 04:08 pm
0
0
Don't put yourself in

Don't put yourself in position to go to jail and you won't have to worry about this nonsense. Most of those that get off (about 35%) I saw earlier, is probably on a technicality. Remember most people that go to jail because their is a reason for it.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 10/14/08 - 04:16 pm
0
0
DMac357 stated it exactly

DMac357 stated it exactly right. He has been sleeping at the wheel. I know from experience. Let's remember that at election time if he is opposed.

Margot
0
Points
Margot 10/14/08 - 05:17 pm
0
0
I wonder, do you remember

I wonder, do you remember reading the article where the fast food restaurant manager confessed to robbing her own store? RCSO SOP.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/14/08 - 05:39 pm
0
0
All I know is one of the fat

All I know is one of the fat cats who gave money to Linda Schrienko, was fined thousands of dollars and hasn't paid it yet. If one of you posters had a traffic ticket and was fined a hundred dollars and you didn't pay it, you would be part of the 35% and you would be in jail. We have the best legal system money can buy!

raaesheedletowanmouemoud
0
Points
raaesheedletowanmouemoud 10/14/08 - 07:37 pm
0
0
Hey, azz holes internet cops,

Hey, azz holes internet cops, what made my post subject to removal???

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