Maurice Jimmerson has been behind bars for 10 years however hasn’t been convicted of against the law. As a result of a sequence of bureaucratic holdups, Jimmerson has been held in a Dougherty County, Georgia, jail since he was charged with homicide in 2013—against the law for which two of his codefendants have already been acquitted. Making issues worse, Jimmerson just lately spent eight months with none lawyer in any respect.
After native journalists uncovered Jimmerson’s case in April, an Atlanta prison protection lawyer stepped in to signify Jimmerson professional bono—and he is motioned to dismiss the costs altogether.
It is unclear why precisely Jimmerson has languished in jail for thus lengthy. Gregory Edwards, the Dougherty County district lawyer, informed Atlanta Information First that a few of the delay might be attributed to a 2021 courthouse flood, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a earlier choose’s resolution to strive Jimmerson and his codefendants individually for the 2013 double-murder cost. Two of Jimmerson’s codefendants have been tried—and acquitted—in 2017.
Issues received even worse for Jimmerson in the summertime of 2022, when his public defender, Benjamin Harrell, filed a number of requests to be launched from Jimmerson’s case, noting that he wanted to journey steadily to acquire medical take care of his toddler daughter. Nonetheless, court docket staff seemingly misplaced Harrell’s requests and did not really grant his launch from the case till April 12 of this yr—apparently after native journalists questioned one choose on why she hadn’t accredited Harrell’s request.
Whereas Jimmerson was successfully and not using a lawyer throughout this era, the Georgia Public Defender Council has insisted that, although Harrell was not offering Jimmerson with any authorized assist, Jimmerson was, in truth, being correctly represented.
“A court docket error, if one occurred, doesn’t obviate Mr. Harrell’s obligations or illustration,” Thomas O’Conner, the Public Defender Council’s communications director mentioned. “In regulation and in reality, Mr. Harrell was Mr. Jimmerson’s lawyer till April 12; assertions on the contrary are intentionally deceptive.”
Critics have been fast to level out this absurdity. “To say that Mr. Jimmerson was ‘represented’ below these circumstances makes a mockery of the suitable to counsel,” Maya Chaudhuri, an lawyer for the Southern Middle for Human Rights, informed Atlanta Information First. “That is actually not the kind of ‘illustration’ anybody of means would pay for.”
Nonetheless, issues could possibly be wanting up for Jimmerson. Final month, Atlanta protection lawyer Andrew Fleischman started representing Jimmerson professional bono, even submitting a movement to have Jimmerson’s case dismissed.
Justifying his resolution to file the movement, Fleischman cited the 1972 case Barker v. Wingo, through which the Supreme Court docket dominated that if somebody is held in custody too lengthy earlier than trial, the case might be dismissed. Fleischman tells Motive that “it made sense to file the movement” provided that Jimmerson has been locked up for 10 years. “And so far as I do know,” he says, “that is the longest anyone’s been held in custody earlier than a trial exterior of [Guantanamo Bay].”
“I’ve this very robust conviction that individuals ought to have a trial earlier than they’re punished. And it looks like that’s like such a minority view,” added Fleischman. The truth is, the Sixth Modification ensures the suitable to a speedy trial, and the suitable to an lawyer, each of which Jimmerson has been denied. “We needs to be making an attempt folks in an affordable period of time, and we must always put an affordable quantity of assets towards making that occur. And if we now have a system the place folks have to attend in jail for 2 or three years earlier than they’ve a trial, that is not due course of.”
In accordance to Atlanta Information First, a listening to for the movement to dismiss is ready for the top of June. However even when the case towards Jimmerson is dismissed, nothing may give him again the last decade he is spent behind bars as a result of administrative incompetence.
“You speak about getting hostages out of different international locations like North Korea or Iran,” mentioned Fleischman. “And the typical time is six years. We speak about these international locations having failed puppet justice methods with no expectation of due course of. And but we now have People on this nation ready 10 years for a chance to power the state to show its case. And that to me is outrageous.”