Once upon a time, prosecutors claimed to be after the truth. Today, Georgia prosecutors are more likely to arrest the people telling the truth in order to keep them from telling a jury under oath that the information they have just might undermine the prosecution's case. Apparently, Eric Echols is not the only Georgia private investigator to be facing trumped-up charges.
This is what the ancients once called obstruction of justice, but today, obstruction of justice is legal in Georgia -- as long as the prosecutors are the ones committing the crimes. Furthermore, the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit is not the only place in Georgia where prosecutors run amok and break the law.
Forsyth County in Georgia is infamous for driving out all its black residents in 1912 after some black men were accused of rape, one of them being later murdered by a Forsyth mob. Today, the law perpetrates injustice of a different kind: pursuing fake child molestation cases, and then attempting to jail a private investigator who had helped uncover information the prosecution did not want the jury to hear.
As I pointed out in a post last week, it seems that Chris "Alberto-Facebook" Arnt was not the first prosecutor to have a PI arrested in order to try to get him off a case. Forsyth ADA Sandra Partridge pulled off the same nonsense a couple years ago, having PI Ron De Laby arrested for the bogus charges of "intimidating a witness."
You might remember that the courts threw out the indictment,but Partridge was not impressed by the law, so she re-indicted Mr. De Laby with the same counts, and that is where things stand. (Mr. De Laby has petitioned for a "speedy trial" before a judge, but so far nothing has happened.)
In a recent conversation I had with Mr. De Laby, he said that an attorney elsewhere in Georgia was threatened with the same kinds of charges (in a similar case), and that this seems to be a strategy -- formal or informal, we don't know -- that Georgia prosecutors are using in order to keep PIs from looking into child molestation cases. In fact, according to Mr. De Laby, it is working, as PIs are refusing to take on these investigations.
Should anyone be wondering if it is legal for prosecutors in Georgia to be doing this, the obvious answer is "no." However, because the Georgia State Bar so far has refused to discipline prosecutors not just for misconduct but also for outright law breaking, the foxes have overrun the hen house.
In my private conversation with Mr. De Laby, he revealed a number of other things about Partridge and her actions that tell me that she is a legal soulmate of "Alberto-Facebook" and "The Man." Partridge looks for child molestation cases, has the help of a local rogue Children's Advocacy Center, and gives juries the "Children never lie about these things" Big Lie, which, unfortunately, most of them swallow.
The notion that anyone can "clean up" the justice system in Georgia is fancy at best, given the pervasive levels of corruption that apparently define the courts in that state. However, I believe that they have overplayed their hands by going after Mr. De Laby and Mr. Echols, and they are two men who both are highly principled AND who have integrity -- and they are motivated not only to beat the bogus charges against them, but to challenge dishonest prosecutors.
Have prosecutors around Georgia been colluding on this strategy to try to head off people who might actually speak the truth in a Georgia criminal court? (Perish the thought that a Georgia prosecutor might have to listen to something that is true, versus the perjured testimony that has become the theme song of the state's DAs.)
If we are looking at collusion, then we also are looking at crimes being committed. Not that it matters, given that Georgia's government anxiously protects its worst criminals.
So stay tuned. We are not going away.