Rob Teilhet Resigns as Head of Georgia Public Defender Standards Council

Rob Teilhet has tendered his resignation as head of GPDSC after only three months in office. Peach Pundit reports on the resignation in a blog post yesterday. I thought his days might be numbered when I met him last month. He came to a conference of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and spoke to the group. If you don’t know the history, the fact that the new-appointed head of defending the poor was coming to speak to a group dedicated to defending the accused would not seem particularly controversial. And anywhere else but Georgia, such an appearance would probably be expected.

However, if you know something about the history of this organization, you’d know that Mr. Teilhet’s appearance before GACDL might have not been a wise political move.

GPDSC is a political organization — a really unpopular political organization.

GACDL is a non-profit organization whose mission is, in part “to promote constant improvement in the administration of criminal justice.” In Georgia, the head of GPDSC is not expected to advance the administration of justice.In some other state maybe. But not Georgia. We don’t coddle criminals here. Go to some liberal state like Alabama if you’re looking for that. The people ruling Georgia didn’t major in political science so that they could help the poor or better the court system. The fact that the poor might need lawyers doesn’t inspire the inner Atticus Finch of Georgia Republican. The fact that Georgians accused of crimes might need lawyers inspires the same feeling that I get when I need to rake the leaves in the front yard. I generally would rather just cut down the trees once and for all.

I’m not saying that Mr. Teilhet’s appearance at GACDL was what cost him his job. GACDL probably doesn’t register enough on the Republican radar for that. Though an appearance of the head of GPDSC at a GACDL event is very rare (the goals of the two organizations being at odds with one another and all). Rather, it seemed that Mr. Teilhet was going to do a good job. And that may have been where things began to go wrong for him.

Or a simpler explanation is that the governor-elect has someone else in mind for the job as a “favor.” Which may be even less benign than what I’ve suggested above. Because if being the head of GPDSC is essentially a political position, then indigent defense will likely continue to suffer.

The criminally accused are not a very popular political constituency.

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