Defense Blamed For Prosecutorial Overkill
Prosecutorial overkill is a factor in the high cost of death penalty trials, a point made by retired Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller, commenting upon the upcoming death penalty trial of Brian Nichols, the defendant in the Atlanta courthouse killings.
Prosecutors presented a 54-count indictment, including four murders, for crimes that took place at 13 separate crime scenes, and they identified 487 witnesses, Fuller said.
As Fuller pointed out, prosecutors could prove their case with ten witnesses. So whose fault is it that defense attorneys needed to interview 474 unnecessary witnesses to defend their client? Fuller suspended the trial when defense funds were cut off, and was later removed from the case. Unsurprisingly, the State of Georgia learned exactly the wrong lesson from the $1.8 million bill submitted by the defense:
State lawmakers approved new measures this year to ban senior judges such as Fuller — who do not face re-election — from hearing death penalty cases. They also tightened the public defender system's budget.
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