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   Racisim

In the last eight and a half years, I have repeatedly been told by clients, the parents of clients and other attorneys that do not frequently practice in Gwinnett County, how racist the criminal justice system is in Gwinnett County. While I must acknowledge that the sentences handed down by the judges are sometimes much harsher than the sentences handed down in Dekalb County and Fulton County (I represent folks in those counties also), I have not seen the racial disparity that would warrant such an indictment of Gwinnett County. For me, Gwinnett County is best illustrated in the case of State of Georgia v. Eric Butler, decided October, 2008.


     Mr. Butler was an up-and-coming contractor hired to rebuild a duplex. Mr. Butler hired a subcontractor to install the plumbing in the duplex. As luck would have it, the client-owner was slow to pay Mr. Butler, who, had no actual cash on hand with which to pay the subcontractor.  Because the subcontractor was insisting on being paid for the services he rendered, Mr. Butler gave the subcontractor a check, with the explanation that the check would not be good until Mr. Butler received funds from the client-owner. Well, the client-owner never paid Mr. Butler; and the contractor brought a criminal action against Mr. Butler for theft of services and deposit account fraud. 



The trial judge, prosecutor and I had never tried a deposit account fraud case to a jury. While the charge carries possible prison time, it is such a nothing case in the grand scheme of things (i.e. mialice murder, armed robbery, trafficking in cocaine, aggravated child molestation, etc.) that none of us had ever tried one to a jury.  



     At trial, the jury heard from four witnesses. The plumbing subcontractor was white. The bank representative, who testified about Mr. Butler`s lack of funds in the bank, and the hieroglyphics on the back of the check at issue, was white. The prosecutor was white. The trial judge was white. Both of the bailiffs in the coutroom were white. The court reporter was white. But, Mr. Butler was black. His one witness, his friend, was black. His defense attorney was black. the jury appeared predominantly white, with just one black male and one Indian male.  Popular opinion about Gwinnett County from those who have had little contact with Gwinnett County courts would have been that the "racist" jury would definitely find Mr. Butler guilty. However, after six hours of deliberation, the jury found Mr. Butler not guilty of deposit account fraud. I did not have an opportunity to speak with the jury after the verdict, but for me the verdict (see recent trials) speaks volumes about the justice system in Gwinnett County.

Lawrence Lewis is an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer practicing as Drug Attorney, License Suspension Lawyers, Sex Offense Attorney, Traffic Citation Lawyer, Misdemeanor Offenses Attorneys, Felony Offenses Lawyer, Bond Lawyer, Armed Robber Attorney, dui lawyer, Preliminary Hearing serving Lawrenceville, Gwinnett Country, Metro Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Marietta, Buford, Fulton County, Canton, Decatur, Norcross, Woodstock, Stone Mountain, Duluth and Cumming .

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