Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
D.C.
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Mass.
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
N.Carolina
N.Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
S.Carolina
S.Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
W.Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Law Firm Website Design Companies : The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Ga. Supreme Court Hears Teen Sex Case

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/07/20 18:01

The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments Friday morning on a pair of appeals in the closely watched Genarlow Wilson case, though no ruling was expected immediately. The courtroom was packed for the hearing, and arguments were broadcast live over the Internet. The hearing came after justices decided earlier this month to speed up the process in the case of Wilson, the Douglas County man imprisoned for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. Wilson's attorneys arguing his 10-year prison sentence is cruel and unusual punishment.

The justices are considering two appeals in the case.

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker is appealing a Monroe County Superior Court judge's decision to reduce Wilson's felony conviction to a misdemeanor and free him from prison. Baker said the judge overstepped his authority when he granted Wilson's motion last month.

Following the Monroe County judge's decision, Wilson's attorneys requested he be released on bond pending Baker's appeal, but on June 27, the trial court in Douglas County denied the request. Wilson's attorneys have appealed that decision.

B.J. Bernstein, Wilson's attorney, addressed the bond issue first at Friday's hearing, arguing for 10 minutes that her client should be granted bond while his case is under appeal.

"Every day that a defendant spends in jail is a precious day in their life," Bernstein told the justices. Bernstein said that in the past 10 days, "two clients of mine died in prison."

Bernstein argued that the trial court, in refusing bond, improperly applied the criminal appeal bond statute when it should have applied the habeas bond statute, since the Monroe County judge had ruled on a writ of habeas corpus, determining that Wilson had the right to make a claim of cruel and unusual punishment.

However, Douglas County District Attorney David McDade, the original prosecutor on Wilson's case, countered in his time before the justices that state law is clear that "no appeal bond shall be granted to any person who is convicted of a list of crimes, and aggravated child molestation is included in that list."

"It's not vague. It's not gray. It's not subject to interpretation," McDade said. "It is the plain letter of the law that applies in this case."

In its appeal of the reduction of the felony conviction to a misdemeanor, the state has argued that the ruling could open the door for many other sexual criminals to have their sentences reduced.

Wilson's attorneys argued that such fears are invalid and do not justify maintaining such a harsh sentence for consensual teen sex.

Video cameras and still photographers lined the walls well before the arguments began. Outside, satellite trucks and Georgia State Patrol cars were parked all along the street, and security was high. Officers were posted all around the building and on the floor where the Supreme Court meets.

Former state Rep. Matthew Towery, the author of the 1995 law Wilson was charged with violating, submitted a friend of the court brief supporting his release.

"The General Assembly never intended for the Child Protection Act's harsh felony sentences designed to punish adults who prey on children to be used to punish consensual sexual acts between teenagers close in age," Towery's brief said.

The state Legislature in 2006 changed the law, making oral sex between teens close in age a misdemeanor. The state Court of Appeals ruled that the new law could not be applied retroactively and the state Supreme Court upheld that ruling.

Bernstein argued in her legal brief that the move by state lawmakers to change the law marked a "tectonic shift in how Georgia views voluntary consensual teen sex and its punishment."

"The new reality is that teen sexual experimentation is commonplace in an era where the media bombards teens with sexual imagery," she wrote.

Bernstein said it is extremely rare in Georgia for lawmakers to pass legislation softening punishment, especially for an emotionally charged crime like child molestation.

But the state countered that it is well established that criminals are subject to the penalty that is in place when they violate the law. To begin to apply legislative changes retroactively would invite chaos and have a far-reaching effect throughout the criminal justice system, Baker argued.


Legal News | Breaking News | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Law Firm Web Design, Attorney Website Design by Law Promo

ⓒ Breaking Legal News. All Rights Reserved.

The content contained on the web site has been prepared by BLN as a service to the internet community and is not intended to constitute legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case.
   More Legal News
   Legal Spotlight
   Exclusive Commentaries
   Attorney & Blog - Blog Watch
   Law Firm News  1  2  3  4  5  6 
   Lawyer & Law Firm Links
San Francisco Trademark Lawyer
San Francisco Copyright Lawyer
www.onulawfirm.com
New Rochelle Accidents Attorneys
New Rochelle Personal Injury
www.kboattorneys.com
Chicago Business Lawyer
Cook County Contract Law
www.rothlawgroup.com
Canton Criminal Lawyer
Canton DUI lawyer
www.cantoncriminalattorney.com
Surry County Criminal Defense Lawyers
Yadkin County Family Law Attorneys
www.dirussolaw.com
Oregon DUI Law Attorney
Eugene DUI Lawyer. Criminal Defense Law
www.mjmlawoffice.com
Houston Car Accident Attorneys
Wrongful Death Attorneys Houston
Houston Wrongful Death
New York Adoption Lawyers
New York Foster Care Lawyers
Adoption Pre-Certification
www.lawrsm.com
Santa Ana Workers' Compensation Lawyers
www.gentryashtonlaw.com
Indianapolis personal injury lawyer
Brain injury lawyer Indianapolis
www.rwp-law.com
Eugene Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy Attorney Eugene
willamettevalleybankruptcy.com
   More Legal News  1  2  3  4  5  6
   Legal News Links
  Click The Law
  Daily Bar News
  The Legal Voice
  The Legal Report
  Legal News Post
  Crisis Legal News
  Legal News Journal
  Law Firm Logos
  Eugene Criminal Defense Law
  Attorney Web Design
  Immigration Law Web Design
  Law Firm Directory