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Two Recent Appellate Reversals

Ex Parte Communication Between Judge and Prosecutors

Posted by Benjamin Goldberg | Feb 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

An article in today's Daily Report, Georgia's legal organ, describes an upcoming motion for new trial involving ex parte communications between the judge and the prosecutors in the judge's courtroom. The appellate attorney in the case did a fantastic job acquiring the audio recording from the trial, which captured the communications. Among other inappropriate comments made by the trial judge, the most atrocious statement was the judge saying to the prosecutors "hopefully this jury does the right thing. Had some unusual cases lately. Unusual juries." Clearly, the judge was expressing his desire that the jury convict the defendant on trial. And when they did convict, the judge sentenced the defendant to life without parole.

Judges are forbidden from communicating with attorneys from a pending matter unless opposing counsel is present, unless it is regarding a scheduling issue or some other informal matter. However, what makes this case especially egregious is the very clear expression by the judge that he has no interest in even pretending to be an impartial jurist. This is absolutely terrifying. Could this judge ever be trusted in any other criminal matter to render a fair and just ruling? I think not. 

The appellate attorney who is handling this case did an amazing job in uncovering this ridiculousness. Although the pending motion for new trial requests the recusal of the judge in question, there should surely be more serious repercussions awaiting a judge who can so easily disregard the most important quality we expect our judges to have. 

About the Author

Benjamin Goldberg

Ben has known since college that he wanted to become a criminal defense attorney. At Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, Ben majored in criminal justice with a focus on pre-law. This helped prepare him for law school, when he returned home to Atlanta, Georgia and attended Georgia State University. While in law school, Ben gained valuable experience during externships with the Georgia Innocence Project, the Federal Defender Program and the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council.


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