Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

The Legislature Steps Into Nichols

Posted by Maggie on December 14, 2007

Apparently everyone wants to bug me today. First the Georgia Supreme Court, now the legislature. I’d heard the rumblings about having a legislative investigation into the Nichols case. Apparently it’s in full swing. The Committee has requested defense expense requests from Judge Fuller.

Early signs are that it isn’t going to be an impartial or objective investigation, as the committee’s actual mission is to investigate the “poor handling” of funds by Fuller. Fuller has asked the defense and prosecution to respond to the State’s request.

I am one who believes this committee’s actions are counterproductive. Does Fuller even have the ability to proceed with the case while he is under state investigation? If the point is to move things forward, I don’t see what this accomplishes. I also find it somewhat discourteous to request so many documents on a relatively short time frame. (Three legislators signed the letter, all three are white males and two are republican. None seem to have any criminal experience, except one who interned with a DA’s office.)

But Judge Fuller’s response just makes me a bigger member of his fan club. I know there are plenty of PD’s out there who hate his guts. But if I was part of the defense on Nichols’ case, I would want fair treatment and Fuller seems to give it, at least from the view that we get. In his order to the prosecution and defense, he asks several well thought-out questions about how to respond. My favorite is whether he should also include an itemized statement of prosecution funds spent on the case. Personally, I think it’s completely fair to show both sides of the story and I hope they do. The concern over public funds has never seemed to extend to the prosecution, which I would guess has cost the state significantly more. Fuller seems to be taking all this in stride.

Being a Judge allows you to be a tyrant with very few checks on your power. But some of them really seem to take their job and ethics seriously. Thus far, it seems like Judge Fuller is the latter, and I’m pleased about that.

The Committee’s letter is relatively balanced (though it lacks any aforementioned references to prosecution expenses and is copied only to lead counsel instead of sending copies to all the attorneys involved) but I am still very hesitant to put any trust in them. They claim in the letter partly to need these expenses to know how much funding to provide for the remainder of the trial. I hope they really are sincere about that, and that at the very least the legislature will make continued funding of the case a non-issue.

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One Response to “The Legislature Steps Into Nichols”

  1. […] Posted by Maggie on January 3, 2008 Previously, the legislative committee investigating Judge Fuller’s involvement in defense expenses requested financial records from the Judge. […]

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