Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson Exposes Pierre Noth for the Mental Giant He Is Not
February 26, 2010
Once again I find myself penning an op-ed about our much embattled/much praised District Attorney, Leigh Patterson. I have found myself at odds with her, over the years, as when I attempted to provide evidence against several public officials which she refused to even consider taking to the Grand Jury. In fact, instead, she took a steps to threaten me on official letterhead, for impugning the integrity of public officials, completely ignoring the precepts of both the United Sates Constitutionâ€™s First Amendment Right to Free Speech including the right of citizens to â€średress their governmentâ€ť. She wholly ignored Georgia Code for defamation, which she threatened could be brought against me for my criticisms of former, (now disgraced and forced to resign) Floyd County Comptroller Al Leonard, and former, (Now disgraced and forced to resign) Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Executive Director/Mario Armas affiliate Bob Saylors.
In fact, during that whole scenario from five or six years ago, Leigh Patterson sat down with me after I read her the riot act about the First Amendment and the Georgia Code on Defamation, telling me that a) she had just come through Marcus Dixon case, and was fearful of getting embroiled in yet another political lightening rod of a case, and that b) she had such great respect for Jerry ____, a RFPRA Board member, who was a â€śShrinerâ€ť and supported Bob Saylors.
But Leigh Patterson violated her oath of office twice in that conversation, which says that a District Attorney shall prosecute without Fear or Favor. However â€“ I believe that Patterson has grown up quite a bit since then, as a DA, and is no longer afraid of tough cases.
I have also been highly critical of Pattersonâ€™s several try attempts to go after a small business owner, Gordon Lee, who accidentally, while trying to participate in a community event, gave out a free comic book on Halloween, which depicted a nude in a historically accurate event in Art History.
And all of my regular readers know I have been her strong critic in the prosecution of, and reneging of a Plea Deal on and seeking of what even Floyd County Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach qualifies as a â€śvery harsh sentenceâ€ť , against Lorrain Lemming, which is even worlds and decades harsher that what Michele Reynolds got for conspiring to murder her late husband.
All this in case in which Patterson and her entire office should have recused themselves, given that Patterson had recently, at the time, represented Lorraine Lemming as a lawyer in the private practice with local attorney Ron Patton. It smacked of Conflict of Interest from the git-go, and I believe that Patterson only reneged on the Plead Deal her office had offered Lemming because of undue influence and pressure from the sitting judge, at the time, in the case, Tami Coslton.
But, I as my most recent article about Patterson revealed, I think she did Floyd County proud in last summerâ€™s much publicized, nationally scrutinized Sam Parker murder trial.
Patterson is certainly an Enigma.
So it is with this Harper-Reynolds case, and more specifically, with her response to criticisms from a former Rome News-Tribune Op-ed Editorialist, of herself and her teams efforts in the murder case, that I find myself singing her praises, AGAIN.
Most who are involved with law enforcement, prosecution, and indeed legal practice, all of which DA Patterson is deeply involved with, Pierre Noth is clueless when it comes to actual law.
As Patterson responded, so much more articulately than I am gifted to do, to an op-ed by Pierre Noth in the Rome News Tribine, Pierre Noth does not have even â€śa rudimentarty understanding ofâ€ť â€¦law in general is how I took it and shall leave it.
In the interest of disclosure, I will say now that Pierre Noth has written several op-eds about me and this website, and cases I am involved in, and I am stunned each time I read his swill, that he does not grasp the most basic concepts of Free Speech, the First Amendment and exactly what defamations entails from a legal standpoint.
I, too, like Leigh Patterson, have been incredulous that as opinion, Noth spews opinion as fact, and generally in support of some major financial supporter of his former paper, or some other prominent person of figure whom he pants after like a dog licking at his masterâ€™s heels.
Noth could not, in my opinion, come up with an original and factually supported opinion on his own, if his long fingernails where threatened by a manicurist.
Noth has in fact, accused this reporter of never substantiating her reports, when in fact , I back up my news articles extensive interviews, AND PUBLIC RECORD, which is considered by Georgia Law to be the highest form of truth.
But Patterson hit it out of the park in her responses to Pierre Nothâ€™s February 7, 2010 op-ed about the Harper-Reynolds case, and I would suggest that all readers who have not read Nothâ€™s editorial and Pattersonâ€™s later response, also printed by the RN-T, should go to the links at the bottom of this op-ed, and read for themselves.
In the meantime, I am quoting from Pattersonâ€™s response, which can only be appreciated fully by reading the entire response:
1.When addressing Nothâ€™s criticisms about why her office sought the death penalty for both suspects, and then allowed a Plea Deal from of them, Patterson penned this in the Rome News Tribune:
â€śAt the time this crime was committed, life without parole was a sentencing option only if the death penalty was sought. If we had failed to file a notice of intent to seek death, Harper would have been eligible for parole one day. You should consider the reaction of the â€śinnocent secondary victimsâ€ť to their fatherâ€™s murderer maybe one day knocking on their front door. We did.â€ť
â€śAlso, if the death penalty had been sought against one defendant and not the other for the same crime, it would have created huge arguments for both defendants to use against the State in the motion hearings, not to mention the fact that I venture you would be the first to complain about the lack of consistency in how defendants are treated.â€ť
â€śAnd finally, if you donâ€™t like living in what you describe as the â€śhang â€™em high, eye for an eye belt,â€ť I have some advice for you. As the late great Lewis Grizzard used to say: â€śDelta is ready when you are.â€ť
Continuing, in a resounding and clarion call about Nothâ€™s failings in any aspect of understanding the law, Patterson wrote:
â€śIt is clear from your statements that you have not even a rudimentary understanding of the Unified Appeal â€” a process instituted by the Georgia Supreme Court to ensure fairness in a death penalty proceeding. The Unified Appeal requires the Supreme Courtâ€™s review of any and all matters that are certified by the Superior Court for pre-trial review at the request of either side. The Unified Appeal is long and cumbersome, but I venture to guess if we went any faster, you would be at the head of the line screaming that a defendant was being railroaded due to â€śjustice being too swift.â€ť
2. In her response to Nothâ€™s criticisms about a Grand Jury pool member issue which arose, and had to be addressed by the Supreme Court, causing charges to have to be presented and re-filed by her office, Patterson once again pointed out Nothâ€™s complete inability to recognize or comprehend the actual law by which she and others MUST abide:
â€śThe Office of the District Attorney cannot by law be involved in the forming, selection, or maintenance of the traverse and grand jury lists. This is the responsibility of the Jury Commissioners, who meet in secret and are appointed by the Superior Court, and the Jury Management Office. Before this particular case, the notices for jury duty that were mailed out by Floyd County were never a problem until a fluke happened where a father and son with the same name and the same address were placed on the same jury list, which by the way, is randomly selected by a computer program. To make sure this issue does not occur again, the Office of Jury Management now has every jurorâ€™s birth date printed on their jury summons. Had you bothered to attend even one hearing on this issue or attempted to verify the facts, it would be apparent to even you that this is not an uncrossed T, an undotted I, or a â€śwhoopsie.â€ť
3. In her answer about keeping both Harper and Reynolds in jail for the last 5 ˝ years, prior to the Plea Deals, Patterson could have added â€śYou Moronâ€ť, but she chose not to. I think most readers certainly editorialized as much in their minds when they read:
â€śBoth defendants had bond hearings â€” Michelle Reynolds had two â€” and the standard the Court has to consider in deciding whether or not a bond is granted is not whether someone is a â€śhomicidal maniac or suicidal.â€ť By law, O.C.G.A. §17-6-1, the judge has several factors to consider:
â€śA court shall be authorized to release a person on bail if the court finds that the person:
(1) Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required; (2) Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community; (3) Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and (4) Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.â€ť
Both defendants were represented at their bond hearings by two attorneys (required by the Unified Appeal), and arguments were presented to the Court regarding electronic monitors and house arrest. The State presented evidence that both defendants were a flight risk and entered letters and e-mails into evidence to support this argument. The State also argued both presented a risk of intimidating witnesses and obstructing justice and the Court found these factors were also present and denied bond.
Since you simply adore to play the â€śwhat ifâ€ť game, letâ€™s indulge ourselves. What if the Court had allowed both defendants out on bond and they took the children of either marriage and fled to Portland, Oregon, as they wrote they intended to do in jail letters intercepted by the Floyd County Sheriffâ€™s Office? Scott Harper was closely monitored and even moved to different jails due to his escape plans that were periodically discovered by law enforcement, but we will deal with that later in this column. What a field day the press would have had if these defendants had fled or harmed the children or any other witnesses involved in the trial because the State had agreed to an electronic monitor or house arrest or the Court had granted these requests made by the defense. And my goodness, the noise we all would have heard about how much money it would cost to extradite a defendant from another state and how all that money could have been saved if only the Court had denied bond.
4. In Nothâ€™s outrageous accusations of â€śspyingâ€ť, Patterson wrote:
â€śYou opine the Sheriff â€śspied on the defendants with nary a qualm.â€ť The State law is crystal clear that a defendant has no expectation of privacy while being housed in a jail. And surprise, that is federal law, too! The telephones at the jail are posted with signs notifying inmates their calls are recorded and there is a recording that plays over the phones to notify the parties the call is subject to being recorded. If an inmate still chooses to talk after being made aware of this, whose problem is this? But I guess you are okay with inmates using the jail phones to threaten witnesses so they will not testify, encouraging others to destroy evidence, or telling witnesses to change their testimony â€” because all of these things happen every day in phone calls from the Floyd County Jail made by those you refer to as the unconvicted. Perhaps in your world, we should place them all on ankle monitors and let them make these threats in person and destroy the evidence themselves.
Without the ability to intercept mail, monitor phone calls, or search jail cells, the Sheriffâ€™s Office might easily have missed the multiple escape plans hatched by Scott Harper. But they didnâ€™t miss because they were watchful, vigilant, and did the job the taxpayers expected them to do.
The Sheriff also did not use inmates to spy on ether defendant. The Floyd County Police were approached by several inmates who had information on both defendants because they were housed in the same cell block.
No one recruited them â€” they came forward and volunteered. And no one cut them a lesser sentence for their cooperation, either.
5. Patterson hits the penultimate of her Letter to Pierre Noth in the Rome News Tribune with one of my favorite quotes:
â€śIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.â€ť
INDEED, Ms. Patterson.
Finally, in a brief, but oh so sweet reference to the title of Nothâ€™s op-ed in which he TRIED, lamely, to bring her down, Patterson concludes her letter with:
â€śThese are the many issues you should consider before the next â€śbig column.â€ť