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Brian Nichols' New Lawyer

Brian Nichols' has a new lawyer, Chris Adams, and he's an outstanding capital defense lawyer. Chris is the Director of the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender.

Chris has been the Capital Resource Counsel for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers ( NACDL). During that time, he spent his time at the Southern Center for Human Rights, trying cases. Here's one of his big wins. Here's another. He regularly participates in death penalty training for defense lawyers like this one, (which lawyers refer to as death camp.)

Who becomes a death penalty defender? While each defender has his or her own reasons, here is Chris' background.

Christopher Adams (L'92) took a pay cut to pursue a job representing death penalty defendants as the death penalty resource counsel for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). Prior to that, he was a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights.

....Adams did not set out to pursue public interest law when he enrolled at Georgetown University Law Center in the fall of 1989. However, a course in criminal law with Professor Greenhalgh, and International Human Rights with Father Robert Drinan inspired him to pursue indigent defense work. Upon his graduation in the spring of 1992, he worked as a staff attorney with the Public Defenders Office in Charleston, South Carolina. There, he worked in a felony court, handling many cases, including over 35 trials of various felonies from cocaine possession through murder. Adams says, "being there for the accused when no one else is, is tremendously rewarding."

Capital defenders are not motivated by money. Federally and in Georgia, capital defenders for indigent clients are paid $125.00 per hour.

This should be an open and shut case, guilt-wise. The challenge is for Chris and his team to save Nichols' life by getting at least one juror to vote against the death penalty. So why can't the prosecution play by the Constitution?

Nichols — expressionless, handcuffed and wearing a T-shirt and tan pants — was shuttled via caravans of unmarked government vehicles to various booking centers. Everywhere he was guarded by dozens of agents and police, many carrying automatic rifles. Pennington said Nichols has been read his rights and offered an attorney.

"He is cooperating," Pennington said.

Chris Adams, head of the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender, tried unsuccessfully to visit Nichols at Atlanta police headquarters and advise him of his rights.

"We were denied access to see our client," said Adams, whose office represents indigent defendants facing state death penalty charges. "We have a statutory mandate to represent people facing the death penalty in Georgia. Mr. Nichols is facing the death penalty in Georgia."

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said Adams was not entitled to see Nichols.

"At this point, he has not requested a lawyer," he said. "Until that request is made, we'll continue as is our normal procedure."

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  • Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 08:18:48 PM EST
    This case is pretty much over before it starts. He's toast.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#2)
    by Rich on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 09:37:59 PM EST
    Capital defenders are not motivated by money
    ...and $125/hr X 40 hrs/wk= $5,000 per week ...and $5,000/wk X 48 wks= $240k per annum That's enough money to reduce anybody's motivation and elevate their altruism.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:20:04 PM EST
    Chris is an excellent atty. Mr. Nichols is in good hands. If it makes rich feel any better, he should know that the Southern Center attys, some of the best attys in this country, make about 1/6 or less of his projected salary yearly. When I started out as a cap defense atty in 1991 w/ student loans to pay, I made $21,600/yr and the pay rate has not much improved by proportion after many years of experience. Most recent law grads start at what we make after many years. The work is our reward -- the intellectual challenge and constant learning curve, the honor of representing our clients under difficult circumstances, the delight of working with committed, passionate, exceptional colleagues, and of doing work with meaning, helping people, day in and day out.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#4)
    by Peter G on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:06:22 PM EST
    Gerry O: The issue in the case would not seem to be "who dunnit," but "what got into him?" None of us knows 1/4 enough about Nichols the person at this point to know what a penalty-phase jury will learn from Chris Adams' efforts to save his life.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:31:43 PM EST
    When the FBI did a study of cop killers in prison, they found that they took the actions they did because they could. That is, the situation made their chance of sucess for the moment seem likely. That would be my guess in this case. It has also been my observation that other than the lack of library cards, the other common thread in the criminals I've dealt with is their inability to feel as if their actions have any actual consequenses, or the thought that they might actually get caught.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 12:28:46 AM EST
    Look the guy killed 4 people, one was a woman, who did nothing to him, she and the others were just shot down like dogs. "Biran" best find God he will need him. and the government helped to make him what he is, Nut!

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 12:51:59 AM EST
    Sad dosen't even scratch the surface of how sick the death penalty is. It gives off the guise of being a "legal" punishment, only because it is an action carried out by almost anonymous characters who supposedly are carrying out "justice" to bring needed "closure" to horrible events. It is beyond sad and unfortunate that 4 people were killed and a few others where injured. So, is killing Brian Nichols going to bring them all back, or heal any wounds, or make breakfast taste any better? Even the sicko Ted Bundy should have not gotten the death penalty. What if we all had to watch capitol punishments, and even worse, see them in person being carried out by school children, with shop saws so we can all hear the screams? Would that be enough to satisfy the "lust" to kill convicted murderers? I think if the avarage Mom and Dad who had to kill a prisoner with their bare hands everyday would either rethink the need for the death penalty, or become a monster themselves.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 08:03:57 AM EST
    Well, "Mark". I'm afraid I don't have that "Yosimite Sam" attribute that so many pro-death penalty people have. Brian Nichols, Scott Petterson, Bundy, Whoever, I don't care. Murder is wrong! But killing a murderer is equal to being a murderer also. But don't worry if my logic pulls your wisdom chord, if you were to kill me today, I wouldn't be in the after-life cursing you and hoping you got the death penalty. After they shovel dirt on my box, I would have already forgiven you.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 08:10:43 AM EST
    Sorry for the double post. I just wanted to add: If you(Mark and others) feel murder is so wrong(and you should), then why murder a murderer? The only reason for the death penalty is to spread equaly, the blood on as many hands as possible. It desensitizes people and even possibly, promotes...uh, Murder, Duh!

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 08:21:00 AM EST
    Very few things are certain in life, but these are two: 1. Nichols WILL be convicted 2. He WILL be sitting on death row in Georgia, not soon enough. Wanna Bet???

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 09:23:13 AM EST
    xyZed - "Killing a murderer is equal to being a murderer also" So are you saying these two things are morally equivilant since they have the same result? Is killing in self-defense the same as murder? Both end in loss of life. Is the legal taking of property to satisfy debt the safe as stealing? They both result in loss of property.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 11:26:25 AM EST
    xyzed... So, is killing Brian Nichols going to bring them all back, or heal any wounds, or make breakfast taste any better? No...but it will guarantee he will never kill anyone else!

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 11:30:29 AM EST
    Narius... This is a tremendous waste of money. It is so clear that this guy should be executed. I'm with you dude. What is really funny as that we are so concerned with being politically correct these days, that the news refers to him as the "alleged killer".... This just makes me LOL. How many people have to see him do it before we can actually say he did it anyway?

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:02:12 PM EST
    "The appeal process for capital cases should really be simplified particularly in cases where guilt is not in doubt." There are no do-overs with the death penalty. Here in Illinois more than a dozen death row inmates - once thought guilty without a doubt - were freed after they were proven innocent. Oops. In this criminal justice system, if you are poor, or worse yet, poor and a minority, there is a different standard for guilt.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:09:55 PM EST
    I agree with xyZed. How does the death penalty for murder teach our kids that killing isn't right? If the state agrees with the death penalty then they are promoting murder.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 03:24:35 PM EST
    ...the news refers to him as the "alleged killer"....
    that's because he hasn't been convicted of anything, he most certainly will, and deservidly so, but he hasn't yet. probably some legal reason for using alleged, oh yeah we wouldn't want the court of public opinion to find him guilty, taints the jury pool, or something like that. don't think the death penalty deters murder.
    In this criminal justice system, if you are poor, or worse yet, poor and a minority, there is a different standard for guilt.
    but of course these death penalty zealots know this, and further that the court/legal system is a cesspool devoid of administering justice, but their all law abiding citizens, until there caught.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#18)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 07:30:48 AM EST
    Butch... Here in Illinois more than a dozen death row inmates - once thought guilty without a doubt - were freed after they were proven innocent. Oops. Their death sentences were commuted via the very crooked Gov. (who should be in jail himself) but they are still guilty!

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#19)
    by Dadler on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 01:30:18 PM EST
    b.b., there's nuts, then there's NUUUUUUUUTS!! go live in china, saudi arabia, sudan, someplace where they kill you before the trial. forgive the rest of us for wanting to maintain a civilized system in the face of heinous inhumanity. to once again quote david mamet: "you child. who the f*ck told you you could work with men!?

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Mar 17, 2005 at 02:52:55 PM EST
    dadler... forgive the rest of us for wanting to maintain a civilized system in the face of heinous inhumanity. And what constitutes civilized to you? The very nature of a civilized society sez that those that don't play by the rules are punished...(we can't have people running amuk doing what ever to whomever...that would be uncivilized wouldn't it?) I personally think an eye for an eye is a good & just thing.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 05:04:37 AM EST
    I truly am sorry for all that has happened in the Atlanta area, but I do think alot of this happens often times where the person has done no wrong, yet is still being punished because he looks as though he is capable of commiting that crime. There was a mistrial in the first case yet they still wanted to punish him because of their feeling about him. However I do think the dealth penalty is wrong regardless of the crime it simply doesn't brings the loved ones bad or helps the healing process. If possible could someone get the address of Nichols I would love to write him in his time of needs as a friend to let him know that someone cares despites what has happened. I simply don't think he'll ever be toast if they kill him a 1000x's

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 03:59:14 PM EST
    I feel there has been biased reporting from the beginning....Brian Nichols seemed to have lived a good life. Good job, condo, black belt, church goer....It seems clear to me that he felt trapped! There was a mistrial, but they were going to keep him....I am a white clinical therapist. From my perspective, the ignorance of the news media people is appauling. Ashley Smith had DUI, shoplifting, alcohol and drug addiction, and breaking and entering and they paint her as a good person! I don't usually feel this strongly that something was unjustly done to Brian. Seems like people still aren't conscious of their prgrammed bigotry. Please have compassion. Wherever you don't have compassion, you have a BIG LESSON TO LEARN ALONG THE LINES OF HUMILITY. Judging another without LOVE in your heart will keep you ignorant. You can still have your opinion, but not based on anything less than LOVE.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#23)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Mar 18, 2005 at 07:02:35 PM EST
    Here in Georgia the death penalty has always been popularly sold, by DAs who stand for election, as a necessary tool in the community's "self-defense" against the "animals" (historically, the dark colored ones). In a state where 12 percent of the population makes up 2/3s of those imprisoned, perhaps Brian Nichols felt that a black man in a Georgia superior court needed some "self-defense." In any event, the death penalty breeds the idea that any man has the right to be an executioner. Our courts enshrine violence and call it punishment, As ye reap ...

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 02:25:59 PM EST
    How many of us ever made a mistake or did something wrong; in hindsight, we wish we could take it back but we soon discover the damage is done and there is no turning back. In reality, we just have to suffer the consequenses and if we are fortunate, we learn to never make that mistake again. On other thing, unless one has truly experienced full blown hopelessness you can in no way deny that Brian Nichols actions were beyond his control. A person with his success story must have had a level head to get where he was in life. Somewhere along the way he lost hope and all rationale. This is what has happened in the Brian Nichols case. It is good that his current punishment is being locked away, because he were able to post bail there are a lot of vengeful blood- thirsty people waiting to would kill him themselves.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#25)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 09:22:24 AM EST
    Nichols snapped i dont beleive he was a cold hearted hatefull person i believe he just snapped and he couldnt stop himself. Thank god for ashely smith

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#26)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 22, 2005 at 06:06:27 PM EST
    Murder is wrong and should not go unpunished. According to reports, this was quite unusual behavior for Nichols, which may save his life. Mr. Adams may be able to prove temporary insanity and get a lesser sentence than the death penalty. Everyone is so quick to judge open murders but what about abortion? Is that not a form of murder? So ladies how would we feel if we were put on trail for the secret abortions we have had, some ladies have 1 or up to 5. So we need to stop judging and start praying. Our society is morally lost. We have placed God and values on the back burner. Let's face it. This society is going to get worse if we do not start changing our anything goes attitude and beliefs. Brian Nichols should wake every born again believer up, we are acting so much like the "world", we did not take time out to love our brother. I pray for the victim's families as well as Brian Nichols. I mostly pray, the victim's souls were saved.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#27)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 09:29:12 AM EST
    I do believe that Brian should be punished for his actions, but I can't agree with putting him to death. His death would only bring a vengeful form of relief, but it will never fill the void that has been left by the four lives lost. I pray that all the victims families find some form of Peace and strength in the LORD to get them thru these difficult times. I also pray that Brian finds the Peace, he somehow/somewhere lost. If you read this past Sunday's Atlanta Journal, you would understand this man's situation a little better. It just seems that somewhere in the process of his first trial, he snapped. And, after reading the story I could understand why. Here it is, he's living a good life, with his girlfriend, and all hell breaks loose. Honestly speaking after reading the article, I don't understand why the jurors of the first case just didn't find him not guilty. The rape case that was present was a joke. A three years old could have prosecuted and defended him better. Anyway, my Prayers are with the families and Brian. I hope he allows the LOVE of GOD back into his heart. He'll need it.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#28)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 06:44:57 AM EST
    I've been looking at all the press releases that have been published and I am surprised that there are people that are trying to argue that Nichols is innocent of rape. especially for the mere fact that he was with her for 7 years. First off, who are we to say that he didn't rape her. We the public, don't have anywhere near all the details of the case. What i've been able to find out is that; he had to tie her up, had made previous threats to her and the family, brought a machine gun with him to the apartment, and brought a cooler for the planned out schedule of assault. He also was in posession of a ton of marijuana and an automatic weapon. This doesn't appear to be innocent if you ask me (not saying he was guilty, but i don't feel that just because he was with her for 7 years means that this type of behavior is normal and innocent) I agree that Brian Nichols snapped. My differing opinion though is that he snapped with a jealous rage for an ex-girlfriend that was now seeing somebody else. He got caught, went to trial, went to trial again, and snapped again. There was no racial indications through this. Everybody now-a-days wants to make everything into being about RACE. He wasn't after the white authority, he was after the authority that was going to put him away for life. If it were a black judge it would have been the same scenario. Simply a man that was broken and at his last resort. I don't feel he was trying to make a political statement through his actions or escape systematic slavery. But for some reason in our society, as soon as we are caught, we plead injustice. That Brian Nichols is the victim. Ignoring all other facts we jump on the same wagon that has been used for entirely too long. Brian Nichols is black and the judge he killed was white, It must be a racial crime or motivated by racial injustice. This is the sad lie we buy into. I wish for once we would not see Color, but rather the deeper issues of the heart that turn what would be seen as a normal citizen into someone that is capable of killing. We need to pass through the shallow excuse that has been used for far too long and discover what really makes someone snap.

    Re: Brian Nichols' New Lawyer (none / 0) (#29)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 02:49:13 PM EST
    I have conflicting views regarding Brian Nichols. On the one hand I think as an individual he is a real jerk, before and after he committed any crime. It takes a special kind of person to participate in founding a church and not visit his daughter but once, since she was born, and she looks just like him. Inherently I believe that he is a selfish pig. As for the alleged victim of the rape from a woman’s point of view, a black woman’s view, I believe that the victims reporting of Brian Nichols was more an act of vengeance than anything else. There are plenty of domestic situations far worst than what Brian Nichols is accused of that never reach the court system and their are even domestic cases that end up in rape and actual physical harm to the victim that carry less penalties then what Brian Nichols was facing for a forty-five minute rape of someone he had had sex with in the past, and spoke to and emailed everyday. It was a hard break up and he was trying to deal with it. Brian Nichols was facing two life sentences and fifty-five years for a 45 minute incident with a girlfriend. I am not a chauvinist there are plenty of incidents in regards to women that I feel deeply about but this is just not one of them. I believe that it is such a shame that because of this woman’s position as a vice president of equifax that her position enabled her to stir up such a white heat of passion against Nichols from the prosecutors office to the arresting officers. However in the end I believe that Nichols reacted the way the he did during the second trial because though he may not have been guilty, he was not used to facing responsibility for anything. Prior to being given a condo by this victim, he lived with his parents and drove an old car which probably meant he had incredibly bad credit, he had not seen his daughter for years, he failed to support her, and face his responsibilities regarding her. If Brian Nichols had learned to tackle the hard issues in his life like paying bills and supporting his child, he may have been able to have waited for a verdict without losing it. I do think that initially he had a really raw deal and I understand that he felt that he was being set up. He felt the judge had been hand picked just to crucify him. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it now but work for change as it regards rights of the accused