I also like Kevin's May 14 post following the verdict. He makes an excellent point here:
A source whose family member was a juror tells me it was clear to the panel from Day 1 that the judge and prosecution were working together on this case. It shocked that juror since, in that juror’s non-legal common sense mind, that juror believed the judge’s job was to ensure that both sides got to present their cases in as much detail as they were able and let the jury sort through the facts.Both are excellent reads and come highly-recommended.
While a Catoosa County jury recently acquitted Tonya Craft of transparently false charges, there are other people in the LMJC who either await trial on false charges or have been convicted of such. One of those victims is Eric Echols, and his story demonstrates just how lawless the prosecutors in Buzz Franklin's office have become. (I have been informed that it is the LMJC, C for circuit.)
Mr. Echols, an African-American and former U.S. Marine, is a private investigator who is based in Atlanta. Ms. Craft's lawyers hired him to help investigate the charges against their client, as well as to deliver subpoenas in the civil child custody case involving Ms. Craft and her ex-husband, Joal Henke.
A capable man, Mr. Echols managed to record Jerry McDonald when McDonald said that he had serious doubts about the child molestation charges against Ms. Craft, and Mr. Echols had found out other things as well. While the laws regarding prosecutors say that they should be striving to find out the truth, the prosecutors of the LMJD believe otherwise, and anyone who finds the truth -- and, thus, stands in the way of the prosecutors -- must be destroyed.
Last year, Mr. Echols delivered a subpoena to Sandra Lamb as part of the Craft-Henke civil case. According to witnesses, Lamb threw the subpoena into the yard and then started calling Mr. Echols a "black bastard." (I incorrectly had claimed earlier that Lamb called Mr. Echols the N-word, but he corrected me on that point in a conversation I recently had with him.)
That was not all. As he got into his car to drive away, she stood in front of the vehicle so he could not leave, and then she went to his car. His window was open, and according to Mr. Echols, Lamb began to punch him. He drove to the Catoosa County sheriff's office to report the assault -- and was arrested later for "interfering with a witness" because he had interviewed McDonald. (The entire Lamb encounter, by the way, is recorded and Lamb cannot deny using a racial slur.)
Now, one must understand that it is legal to serve subpoenas, but in the LMJD, Franklin's prosecutors make up the law as they go along. Furthermore, the arrest of Mr. Echols took him out of the investigative loop, as it was obvious he was finding material that would weaken the prosecutors' case.
At present time, Mr. Echols is slated to be tried in September, and if convicted, he would face up to five years in prison. Anyone who knows the law knows these charges are contrived, and they smack of what Michael Nifong tried to do four years ago after it became known that Moez Elmostafa, a cabbie in Durham, North Carolina, had picked up Reade Seligmann at the very time that Nifong claimed Reade was raping Crystal Mangum. Nifong contrived charges against Elmostafa, but the African immigrant stood his ground and ultimately was acquitted of criminal charges.
Prosecutors who would do such a thing are people who will stop at nothing to get a conviction. This goes against every law and every ethical code in the State of Georgia, but so far Franklin, Chris Arnt, and Len Gregor have been allowed to run wild, smashing the law as they go.
One might remember that Gregor, in his cross-examination of Ms. Craft, accused her of having a sexual affair with Mr. Echols. His proof? She had met him in a hotel room and the room, Gregor astutely observed, has A BED. Thus, according to Gregor's twisted logic, if one is in the room with someone else and the room has a bed in it, then the people automatically have a sexual encounter. (The possibilities are endless, but I prefer not to go there.)
Furthermore, because Mr. Echols is African-American, Gregor was trying to play a racial angle to inflame jurors by claiming Ms. Craft was SLEEPING WITH A BLACK MAN. This is something one might expect from a Scottsboro Boys Trial prosecutor, not someone in the year 2010, but there it is.
(Gregor's theory had one huge whole in it. Mr. Echols' wife also is a PI, and given her skills, she would have found out about such a tryst and then the prosecution by Facebook and The Man would have been the least of Mr. Echols' problems. Mr. Echols might be aggressive as a PI, but he is not stupid.)
So, while Ms. Craft is free, nonetheless the work goes on because Buzz Franklin's office cares only about convictions and his ADAs will tell any lie necessary to "win." Thus, while Franklin might brag about his "98-percent conviction rate," it is obvious to a lot of us that such a rate is obtained only because the "win at all costs" mentality that governs the LMJD has been permitted to go on unabated. No more.