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Media Roundup: SCHR in the News

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Settlement in Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Cartersville Police Over Wrongful Arrests 

“This type of guilt-by-association policing is ripe for the abuses you see here, and the real-world consequences for people like our plaintiffs are devastating.” -SCHR Attorney Ebony Brown 

Last month, we reached a settlement in a civil rights lawsuit, filed by SCHR and The Merchant Law Firm, PC, on behalf of over 60 young people who were arrested for being present at a 2017 party where less than an ounce of marijuana was found. Officers entered the private residence without a warrant, and immediately treated everyone at the party like suspects. They were arrested, shackled, strip searched and humiliated, jailed purportedly for possessing the same small amount of marijuana- charges that were dropped days later. “No one has actually sat down and said that we apologize for being in the wrong, we’re sorry for what we did to you, we’re sorry for treating you inhumane,” said Deja Heard, whose party was raided illegally. The 64 plaintiffs were awarded $900 thousand in damages, but the injustices they suffered cannot be undone. 

“It took three years to get to justice and it was a long road… This was a very traumatic thing for them. A lot of our clients lost jobs, scholarships, they had military deferments. We’re proud of our clients for having stood up and fought for their rights.” -SCHR Attorney Gerry Weber  

Men Wrongfully Convicted Based on Junk Science Denied New Trials in GA and AL

Danyel Smith was blamed for the death of his infant son in 2002 based on a now-discredited forensic diagnosis of “shaken baby syndrome.” This month, a Gwinnett County judge refused to hear Mr. Smith’s unrebutted evidence of innocence. “Preventing Mr. Smith an opportunity to present his new evidence of innocence at a hearing defies justice. We thus call on the Gwinnett County district attorney to act immediately to correct Danyel Smith’s demonstrated wrongful incarceration.” – SCHR attorneys Mark Loudon-Brown and Whitney Knox Lee 

Charles McCrory was wrongfully convicted in Alabama of killing his wife based on “bite mark evidence” presented as testimony by an expert who recanted in 2019. Last year, Mr. McCrory refused a deal that would have set him free after 36 years in exchange for a guilty plea. “He rejected it because he refuses to admit to something that he didn’t do,” said SCHR attorney Mark Loudon-Brown. He was denied a new trial last month, “despite the prosecution’s own expert recanting his trial testimony and admitting, in agreement with the entirety of the scientific community, this kind of evidence has no place in the criminal courts.” -Mark Loudon-Brown and Chris Fabricant of the Innocence Project 

Atlanta Police Department Incentivizes Arrests with Quota System 

Last month, Black trans woman Ju’Zema Goldring was awarded $1.5 million in a federal lawsuit against two Atlanta police officers for wrongfully arresting and jailing her on a bogus drug trafficking charge. The case exposed an APD quota system that Judge William Ray said creates “perverse incentives” for officers: “Rather than writing a citation… it would seem the officer might be tempted instead to arrest that person for just a couple extra points.” 

SCHR Public Policy Director Tiffany Roberts expressed similar concerns over the system, which awards extra points for arresting a child or for arresting people for felonies, meanwhile, officers who respond to service calls earn mere fractions of a point. “You’re incentivized to arrest people and to arrest people for the harshest offense possible. If there is a belief within APD that this point system works, that means they believe that the more people officers arrest, the safer we are, even though there isn’t data pointing to that.” 

Join Ms. Goldring’s legal team and SCHR Public Policy Director Tiffany Roberts 6pm March 29 for “Counting Cuffs” to learn how quota systems drive police violence. Register here