Woman's DUI case decision reversed

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A judge reversed a woman's conviction and ordered a private probation company to give back $500 but declined to address the constitutional issues in Lisa Harrelson's habeas petition.

Sentinel Offenders Services, a for-profit private company that provides probation services for Richmond County State Court, also lost its counterbid to reopen a default judgment in Ms. Harrelson's petition.

In July 2007, after two days in jail, Ms. Harrelson pleaded guilty in State Court to driving under the influence of alcohol. She was sentenced to one year on probation. The judge also ordered her to pay $651 in fines and surcharges and a monthly probation fee of $35.

In an order signed Wednesday, Superior Court Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet wrote that the state cannot prove Ms. Harrelson's guilty plea was voluntary because the court proceeding was not recorded.

He also noted that Ms. Harrelson's guilty plea to an offense she did not commit was another reason to question the legality of the conviction.

Sentinel was properly served and chose not to answer Ms. Harrelson's allegation, Judge Overstreet wrote. Therefore the default judgment will stand. He ordered Sentinel to return the $500 Ms. Harrelson paid.

Judge Overstreet declined to rule on the constitutionality of the $50 fee to apply for a public defender.

Ms. Harrelson's attorney, John Long, said that she was denied legal counsel because she didn't have $50 to pay the fee.

The judge also declined to address the legality of a private company's ability, through the State Court, to increase its fees by requesting that probationary terms run consecutively instead of concurrently.

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

Comments (22) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 04/03/09 - 12:58 am
0
0
Sentinel Offender Services

Sentinel Offender Services will rue the day it first heard the name "Jack Long."

afadel
675
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afadel 04/03/09 - 05:08 am
0
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I don't understand: "[Judge

I don't understand: "[Judge Overstreet] also noted that Ms. Harrelson's guilty plea to an offense she did not commit was another reason to question the legality of the conviction." How did the judge know that Ms. Harrelson did not drive under the influence?

its a ham
0
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its a ham 04/03/09 - 06:42 am
0
0
Her tickets were for DUI of

Her tickets were for DUI of drugs. She pled to DUI of alcohol. The story could have included that information but apparently accurate reporting is just way too much work.

AnGie4
0
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AnGie4 04/03/09 - 07:04 am
0
0
oh my...........

oh my...........

drumbeater1
1
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drumbeater1 04/03/09 - 07:24 am
0
0
good for her !!!!! so caslled

good for her !!!!!
so caslled justice has become a matter of big bucks.....nothing to do with what it should be

takeme2
0
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takeme2 04/03/09 - 08:14 am
0
0
Now she can continue to drive

Now she can continue to drive drunk oh my!

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 04/03/09 - 08:18 am
0
0
Sentinel Offenders Services,

Sentinel Offenders Services, a for-profit private company. "FOR PROFIT." why is this bunch of illegal legal thugs participating in justice anyway?

justus4
120
Points
justus4 04/03/09 - 08:26 am
0
0
This ruling is an indictment
Unpublished

This ruling is an indictment of the entire judicial system and further demonstrates that JUSTICE in America is a subjective term. Example: This plantiff in this case CANNOT possibly be a minority. That fact is extremely clear based solely on the judge's decision. Overstreet made the correct legal decision, but had the case been brought by a minority, the outcome would probably have been different. That is the problem and the pattern is clear that decisions are not based on the facts, but rather the actual individual and his/her appearance to the judge.

justthefacts
28857
Points
justthefacts 04/03/09 - 08:40 am
0
0
guess you better stay out of

guess you better stay out of trouble justus.

freespeech
0
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freespeech 04/03/09 - 08:49 am
0
0
All the private company is

All the private company is doing to managing what a JUDGE ruled!! They DO NOT pass judgements. Counties and Cities are too lax and lazy to follow up on the conviction. The money they collect goes to the court that passed sentence. They charge the chriminal a small monthly fee to provide their service to the court. These companies are saving YOU tax dollars.

politicallyNcorrect1
0
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politicallyNcorrect1 04/03/09 - 09:09 am
0
0
Justice? hard to find in

Justice? hard to find in today's society.

drumbeater1
1
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drumbeater1 04/03/09 - 09:54 am
0
0
justus4...i will refrain from

justus4...i will refrain from my usual "beating" up on you, which is just for fun anyway, nothing personal, and agree with you. the problem is anything dealing with a human being is subjective. justice may be blind , but people are not. nowadays,private probation is a money maker. it's just plain wrong when the judge says, " here are my probation girls, they will set you you up to pay your fines and fees....like okay, they are at the court sitting there salivating over the day's receipts.....

triscuit
3438
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triscuit 04/03/09 - 09:55 am
0
0
I am sure she had to have

I am sure she had to have more than $50 to pay Jack Long's bill...

Lp_J
0
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Lp_J 04/03/09 - 10:40 am
0
0
great job jack long senitnel

great job jack long senitnel needs to be shut down anyway

jack
11
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jack 04/03/09 - 11:20 am
0
0
Justass4, make sure you don't

Justass4, make sure you don't get a DUI as obviously, the Courts just don't like blacks, right?

ListenAndLearn
0
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ListenAndLearn 04/03/09 - 03:33 pm
0
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Justass for fun, is Lisa

Justass for fun, is Lisa Harrelson black or white? Was she under the influence of drugs or was it alcohol? And since the case, as you put it, wasn't brought by a "minority", how did you arrive at the conclusion it would have been a different adjudication if it HAD been a "minority"? PSST If she's white in Richmond County, she IS a minority. Has been for several years.

DEVGRU
0
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DEVGRU 04/03/09 - 06:03 pm
0
0
What Judge would not record a

What Judge would not record a court case. Was it by accident or intentional? And Sentinel is nothing more than a money pit.

SCGAL53
0
Points
SCGAL53 04/03/09 - 07:05 pm
0
0
justass- why didn't you make

justass- why didn't you make a positive comment on the article about Joseph Conner saving the little girl. You never write anything positve. Seems like you'd have something good to say about Joseph.

concernmom
404
Points
concernmom 04/03/09 - 07:30 pm
0
0
Now that is some change we

Now that is some change we can believe in!!! We need such a liberal mind as his in the Augusta judiciary circuit! NOT... So when does Judge Overstreet retire?

asustudent8824
0
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asustudent8824 04/03/09 - 08:50 pm
0
0
incase you didn't know, the

incase you didn't know, the correctional industry is a money making business. from alternative sentencing to privately owned correctional institutions.

concernmom
404
Points
concernmom 04/03/09 - 09:02 pm
0
0
The corrupt correctional

The corrupt correctional industry is not the point- it is the premise that justice is reserved for a few and not for the rest of us. Please, don't confuse the two; one is judicial, and the correctional industry is determined by the government (state). Unfortunately, they both seem to be corrupt.

JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 04/04/09 - 07:35 am
0
0
That's part of what's wrong

That's part of what's wrong in Augusta. Why hire and pay another company to collect fines? Why are we doing this as a city and using our own employees and keeping all the proceeds from the fines? Same goes for the phone company who bilks families of those in jail by charging exhobitant fees for phone calls. Why are the families monetarily punished for having someone in jail? Who owns these businesses? I bet it is someone with city connections!

mable8
2
Points
mable8 04/06/09 - 11:25 pm
0
0
Just to enlighten you,

Just to enlighten you, justus4, the "black race" is NO LONGER A MINORITY; they are now a MAJORITY...so get off your racist bandwagon and get more in touch with the real world. As for corrections, this department should have never been privitized; many other states have found that private businesses in the correctional field do not work out because they cause more problems. Quite frankly, no government operation should go to the private sector; they are wasteful and, more often than not, more corrupt.

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