Headlines

  • A Fulton County Superior Court judge is expected to issue a temporary restraining order that halts the state public defender system from appointing a circuit public defender in Cordele.

    "We received notice that the judge has enjoined [the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council] from making an appointment and [is] setting a hearing for next week," Stephen Bright, president and senior counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights, said via email.

    The Southern Center on Monday filed a motion with Judge Todd Markle asking for an injunction and an evidentiary hearing.

  • A nationally recognized expert in indigent defense is so enraged by what he calls the “worst public defender office in the state” that he has applied to run the place.

    The bid by Stephen Bright, senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, to become the head of the Cordele Circuit Defender Office will surprise many members of Georgia’s legal establishment.

  • A federal judge in Albany is allowing a suit to go forward against Grady County and a state court judge over hundreds of thousands of dollars in unauthorized administrative costs the judge allegedly billed to misdemeanor defendants in order to bolster county coffers.

  •  “A MAN is undone by waiting for capital punishment,” Albert Camus wrote, “well before he dies.” On July 16th a federal judge in California, Cormac Carney, ruled in Jones v Chappell that the machinery of death in the Golden State is so plagued by delays and arbitrariness that it amounts to a “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the federal constitution. Judge Carney struck down Ernest Jones’s 1995 death sentence for raping and killing his girlfriend’s mother, along with the capital sentences of 747 other convicts.

  • In courts around Georgia, people who are charged with misdemeanors and cannot pay their fines that day in court are placed on probation, most under the supervision of for-profit companies until they pay their fines. On probation, they must pay these companies substantial monthly “supervision fees” that may double the amount a person of means would pay for the same offense.

  • Tuesday's arguments at the Georgia Supreme Court weren't supposed to be about the ultimate question raised in a 2011 lawsuit filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights: whether the state has to provide free lawyers to indigent parents facing jail for allegedly failing to pay child support. But the issue seemed difficult to avoid as lawyers debated whether a Fulton County judge was right to certify the case as a class action.

  • The Obama Administration last week warned against over-discipline in the nation's schools. An important new lawsuit in Georgia offers a glimpse of how high that cost can be for young offenders.

  • ATLANTA (CN) - Georgia's 8th Judicial District underfunds its public defender's office so badly that its juvenile courts have more judges than public defenders, denying children the right to counsel, and sending adults to jail for months before trial, a class action claims in state court.

    Four children and four adults sued Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal and the director of Georgia's Public Defender Standards Council W. Travis Sakrison, in Fulton County State Court.

  • MACON, Ga.  —    Ben Hill County Court, one of four counties that comprise the Cordele judicial circuit, which lawyers for the Southern Center for Human Rights claim is woefully understaffed with public defenders. Ben Hill County Court, one of four counties that comprise the Cordele judicial circuit, which lawyers for the Southern Center for Human Rights claim is woefully understaffed with public defenders.

    State officials are defending themselves against a lawsuit over the number of public defenders in south-central Georgia. 

  • A human rights organization is suing the state for allegedly violating the right to counsel of indigent juveniles and adults facing criminal charges in the Cordele Judicial Circuit, and seeks remedies for alleged understaffing in the four-county circuit’s public defender’s office.

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