However, besides the fact that LMJC prosecutors openly would have to suborn perjury in order to put Mr. Echols on trial (not that perjury bothers Buzz and the Gang) and despite the little problem of having no cooperating witnesses, our Legal Eagles of the LMJC have run into yet another sticky little problem: the law. Yes, it seems that the Georgia Court of Appeals already has ruled on a similar case, and the outcome clearly presents an insurmountable barrier to the prosecutors.
First, it seems that "Alberto-Facebook" was not the first Georgia prosecutor to come up with the rather stupid idea of charging a private investigator in a child molestation case with "influencing a witness." No, someone in Forsyth County beat him to it, and had "Superlawyer" Arnt been paying attention (given the decision came down July 6, 2009, which was before he got the indictment against Mr. Echols), he might have realized that his cherished conviction was DOA.
Second, the appeals court in THE STATE v. DELABY, declared that the private investigator, Ronald Charles Delaby, was entitled "to an indictment perfect in form and substance." What that means is that the indictment needed to specify how the defendant had illegally "influenced" a witness.
Now, if the Delaby case seems to mirror that of Mr. Echols, that is because it does mirror it, and that is good news for Eric and, bad news for the LMJC. To further illuminate the situation, I quote from the decision itself:
Under Georgia law, an indictment that "states the offense in the terms and language of [the applicable Code section] or so plainly that the nature of the offense charged may easily be understood by the jury shall be deemed sufficiently technical and correct." OCGA § 17-7-54. The real test, therefore, [*3] is not whether the indictment could have been clearer, but whether it states the elements of the offense and "sufficiently apprises the defendant of what he must be prepared to meet, and, in case any other proceedings are taken against him for a similar offense, whether the record shows with accuracy to what extent he may plead a former acquittal or conviction." (Citations and punctuation omitted.) State v. English, 276 Ga. 343, 346 (2) (a) (578 SE2d 413) (2003). Thus, "[i]t is useful to remember that the purpose of the indictment is to allow defendant to prepare his defense intelligently and to protect him from double jeopardy."If you think this spells doom for the prosecution's case, you are correct. If the indictment itself is fatally flawed, then there can be no charges.
Now, readers might ask, is Buzz Franklin so bone-headed that he might try to re-indict Mr. Echols? Anything is possible, I suppose, but Buzz and his Dishonest Duo would have a heck of a time putting together a nonexistent case under the glare of publicity. Furthermore, if their pants are down to their knees now, another foolish caper would put those pants around their ankles.
One would hope that there will be a "color of law" investigation by the FBI in this whole sorry affair. Furthermore, Mr. Echols will not be going away, and neither will this blog and a whole host of people.
I would urge readers who wish to do their duty as citizens to contact the FBI to help encourage officials to see through this sorry mess. The contact information for the Atlanta office of the FBI is:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
2635 Century Parkway N.E.,
Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: (404) 679-9000
Special Agent in Charge
Brian D. Lamkin