• An advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against multiple state and county officials, seeking remedies for the alleged frequent absence of public defenders in the Cordele Judicial Circuit’s juvenile courts.

    The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court on behalf of eight plaintiffs, contends that the Cordele Public Defender Office is “severely understaffed” and lawyers are required to handle an excessive caseload, according to a news release from the Southern Center for Human Rights. The Cordele Judicial Circuit comprises Ben Hill, Crisp, Dooly and Wilcox counties.

  • http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365142567

  • For years, I have been reporting on Stephen Bright, this nation’s foremost defender, in and out of court, of Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court’s 1963 decision that sought to guarantee “fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law.” Every defendant.

  • Former President says capital punishment has evidenced an 'extreme bias' for the poor and minorities


    Former President Jimmy Carter, center, speaks on panel with ABA president James Silkenat, left, and Southern Center for Human Rights' Stephen Bright. Photo by Michael A. Schwarz

    Former president Jimmy Carter called for the United States to abolish the death penalty at an American Bar Association event at the Carter Center on Tuesday, saying the country has become an outlier.

  • Why isn't the White House doing more to nominate judges of color to sit in states like Georgia, Alabama and Florida, where minorities are severely underrepresented?

  • Three Georgia judges and two sheriffs have agreed to stop limiting public access to courtrooms in two south Georgia counties.

    Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher found out the judges had previously promised an open-door policy, then started closing the doors again.The Rev. James Davis wanted to attend a criminal court hearing for a member of his church in Fitzgerald, the county seat of Ben Hill County. Davis was shocked when he was turned away by the bailiff.

  • ALBANY, Ga. — A group focused on fighting human rights violations against inmates has reached a settlement with three south Georgia judges it had accused of denying public access to proceedings in jail courtrooms.

    The settlement agreement was filed Monday in federal court in Albany. It reflected an agreement between the Southern Center for Human Rights and three judges in the Cordele Judicial Circuit: Chief Superior Court Judge John Pridgen, Superior Court Judge T. Christopher Hughes and Superior Court Judge Robert Chasteen, Jr.

  • When the state government was considering legislation in 2010 to remove Georgia's public defender system from the judiciary branch and move it to the executive branch and to restructure the Public Defender Standards Council to make it more subject to political control, a member of the Council, Wycliffe Orr, warned that the GPDSC would not remain a truly independent agency focused on providing quality indigent defense services to its clients.

  • Superior Court judges in the Cordele Judicial Circuit have settled a class action suit filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights on behalf of people who claimed they were unconstitutionally barred from court hearings.

    The settlement, announced by the Southern Center, follows two scathing rulings by U.S. District Judge Louis Sands, who refused to dismiss the suit.

  • Two South Georgia counties Monday agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleged members of the public were being unconstitutionally prohibited from attending court proceedings.

    The suit was filed last year by individuals who were relatives or friends of criminal defendants and who said they were turned away when trying to attend court in Ben Hill and Crisp counties. The suit was filed against the counties’ three Superior Court judges, the Crisp County sheriff and a number of courtroom bailiffs.