Headlines

  • A Rome man who served time in the Floyd County Work Release Center after falling $3,000 behind on child support payments has filed a lawsuit against multiple state and local officials.

  • Randy Miller is serving a sentence in the Floyd County work release center for falling more than $3,000 behind on his child support payments.

    A petition for his release is slated for a Jan. 10 hearing in Floyd County Superior Court.

    “He should never have been incarcerated,” said Sarah Geraghty, an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. “In this country, we don’t put people in jail just because they’re poor.”

  • Alabama ranked third nationally in executions conducted in 2010, while the nation overall continued to see fewer executions and death sentences, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

      Alabama's five executions in 2010 trailed only Texas, which had 17, and Ohio, which had eight. Alabama ranks fifth nationally in the number of executions since 2000, with 30, according to the Death Penalty Information Center's annual report.

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  • John Hithon, a black man, spent 13 tough years working his way into the lower ranks of management at a Tyson Foods chicken plant in Gadsden, Ala. He started out as a “live hanger,” hoisting 24 squirming birds onto moving metal hooks every minute. Then he moved up to what court records called “killing and picking.” He was later made a supervisor in charge of “eviscerating and deboning.”

  • Since Alapaha Circuit Chief Judge Brooks E. Blitch Sr. resigned his judgeship in April 2008 rather than face an ethics trial in front of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, at least 21 Georgia judges have been disciplined publicly by the JQC or have stepped down from the bench amid allegations of unethical conduct.

  • Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher said his biggest fear for Georgia could quickly become a reality if something is not done soon to fix the state’s declining indigent defense system.

    “Clearly the state has an obligation under the Sixth Amendment to provide counsel to those who are indigent. The defense system is underfunded and put on the backs of 169 counties,” said Fletcher, who lives in Rome.

    The indigent defense program, which provides legal aid to those who couldn’t otherwise afford it, is facing budgetary shortfalls.

  • When the State of Georgia ran out of money to pay the lawyers for a man facing the death penalty, the prosecutor, of all people, had an idea. He asked the judge to appoint two overworked public defenders instead, identifying them by name.

    The judge went along. The Georgia Supreme Court, by a 4-to-3 vote, endorsed the arrangement in March, saying the defendant, Jamie R. Weis, should have accepted the new lawyers to help solve the state’s budget impasse.

  • Jamie Weis, accused in 2006 of killing an elderly neighbor, had two state-appointed lawyers defending him from capital murder charges for more than a year.

    When the state of Georgia ran out of money to pay them, the trial judge removed them, appointing public defenders who spent nearly the next two months trying to withdraw.

    Weis, in county jail now for four years, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to delve into what he claims is a breakdown of Georgia's public defender system.

  • Elberton – Instead of sitting on the bench Wednesday, where he has presided as judge for 15 years, John Bailey Jr. sat a few feet away -- below on the witness stand.

    Bailey, chief judge of the Northern Judicial Circuit, recounted how the court system here almost collapsed two years ago when lawyers began abandoning their indigent clients because they weren’t being paid.

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