Monday, February 18, 2019

The Devil Ran Scams In Georgia

He was looking for a soul to steal
He was in a bind, 'cause he was way behind,
He was willing to make a deal...

David Shell has a long record of beating up women.

He once beat his ex-wife so badly she blacked out, her left eye nearly swollen shut, then he locked her in their home so she couldn’t reach a hospital, she said.

Another time, he threw a girlfriend to the ground and slapped and choked her, court records show.

So when another bruised and bloodied girlfriend told police he had flown into a rage and head-butted her and bit her finger at a camper park in Ellijay, Shell faced serious consequences. A grand jury charged him as a repeat offender, which could mean up to 20 years in prison for aggravated assault.

Yet more than four years after his indictment, Shell remains a free man, the charges against him stymied. A big reason: He paid a large retainer fee to hire an attorney who is also one of Georgia’s most powerful lawmakers, state Speaker of the House David Ralston.

Just as Ralston has done for other clients charged with violent or heinous crimes, he used his elected position to delay hearings and court dates, preventing the case from moving forward in the Gilmer County justice system.

“That’s why I gave him 20,000 bucks,” Shell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s worth every penny of it.

When I say Donald Trump is merely the crowned boil on the ass of America, the metastasized tumor in the body politic, I mean that the Republican Party as a whole is corrupt, blackened, and broken beyond repair, and David Ralston is a prime example why.

A joint investigation by the AJC and Channel 2 Action News found that Ralston appears to be misusing the power of his public office to benefit his private law practice. By doing no more than writing letters to judges declaring that court dates interfere with his lawmaking duties, he has been able to keep cases perpetually off the docket. But his tactics can thwart justice, harm crime victims and put the public at risk.

Ralston has tied up cases for clients charged with child molestation, child cruelty, assault, terroristic threats, drunk driving and other crimes.

Often, he writes letters that stave off cases in bulk. That keeps his clients free on bond, while their chances of escaping harsh punishment get better with every passing year.

“Please be advised that I am hereby requesting a continuance of these three cases from the criminal calendar call,” reads one of Ralston’s typical letters. “I hereby certify to the Court that my legislative duties and obligations will require that I be elsewhere on that date.”

Under a state law dating back to 1905, judges and prosecutors must defer to the legislative schedule of any practicing attorney who serves in the General Assembly. Other attorney-lawmakers, though, are mainly relegated to claiming the exemption during the annual 40-day legislative sessions.

As House speaker, Ralston, who practices law in the rural, mountainous counties of North Georgia, can claim conflicts year-round. In 21 cases examined in four counties over a two-year period, he filed 57 requests for continuances.
Of the 93 days he claimed to be unavailable for court, 76 were outside of legislative sessions and special sessions. Speaker duties during those times could include overseeing legislative offices and staff, appointing committee chairs and members, and appearing at conferences, civic meetings and party functions.

Ralston declined to grant an interview for this story, instead issuing a written statement through a spokesman.

“Legislative leave is a long-established provision of Georgia law which recognizes the unique needs of a citizen-legislature and protects the independence of the legislative branch of state government,” the statement said. “Like other members of the General Assembly, I utilize this provision outside of the legislative session, when necessary, to attend to my legislative duties as both a state representative and Speaker of the House.”

Hire the Speaker of the Georgia House as your defense lawyer and you're free on bond for good.  That's the Republican answer to "criminal justice reform" now isn't it?  It's like plenary indulgences of old, or paying the medieval magistrate to look the other way.  The suits may have changed but the scams remain the same.

He who has the gold, makes the rules...

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