I found myself defending Georgia during a telephone call yesterday. Every week, I speak to between 60 and 90 people who have a new legal problem. I realize that when people call me they are extremely stressed out and they are looking for answers. I also know through my experience that many people are either falsely charged with a crime, or often they are charged with some offenses that they did not do. In fact, it is a common tactic of police officers and prosecutors to charge someone with more offenses than had occurred, to secure a plea bargain later on.
That all being said, I spoke to someone yesterday who is certain that his criminal charges were merely the result of corruption. He went on to tell me that Georgia is known to be the most corrupt state in the union.
As a citizen of Georgia, I sprang to its defense. I will start out by saying that I am biased. I moved to Georgia in 1992 to attend Emory University Law school. The short version of my life, when it comes to my relationship with Georgia, is that it has given me far more than I have given it. As a complete stranger, I have learned what it means to ask for acceptance and to have been given it.
We were not a perfect state when I arrived in 1992 and we are not now. However, in the 22 years that I have practiced law, I have seen incredible, positive changes in Georgia. Overt racism is now unacceptable everywhere. Does that mean that bigotry and racism do not exist? Of course, they still exist. However, in professional and government quarters it is not acceptable.
It is also no longer acceptable that certain people are singled out for greater punishment due to the color of their skin or their background. Again, there are injustices in court; I see it all the time. However, the point is that these injustices are openly discussed amongst members of the bar and in the media and as a result change is afoot.
Many police officers have both body camera and camera in their police cruisers. As a result, the incidences of police violence and misconduct have been greatly reduced.
Efforts to stack juries with panels, which don't match the racial diversity of a community, have been eliminated. In 22 short years, prosecutors' offices have been populated with more minorities and women, also reflecting the demographics of the community.
Again, my job as a Georgia DUI Defense Attorney is to point out when someone has not been treated fairly. My job is to represent individuals against unfair charges and to seek a reasonable resolution of the dispute. When someone is falsely charged, my job is to take the issue before a jury of his or her peers. However, I will not accept the wholesale throwing under the bus of the state in which I have chosen to live and make my career.
Georgia is no longer the backward state depicted in the Stuart Wood's novel, Chiefs. We have come a long way, and there is still progress to be made. That being said, the trend line is moving in the right direction. Happy Memorial Day Weekend to all of our veterans and soldiers, sailors, and marines currently serving this great country.