One more vestige of the Johnnie Caldwell legacy will remain in place, for a little while anyway. Greg Land at the Fulton Daily Report notes that the United States Supreme Court has denied Jamie Ryan Weis’s petition for certiorari. Mr. Weis has been sitting in the Spalding County Jail since 2006 charged with murder. His case has not yet gone to trial because the State has funded his prosecution but not his defense. In 2007, Mr. Caldwell removed his death penalty defense lawyers with state-salaried lawyers. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Georgia found no speedy trial violation, in part, blaming Mr. Weis for the delay because he objected to the trial court’s decision to treat his lawyers as fungible. At oral argument, some of the justices suggested that capital defense counsel should be required to donate their time.
Stephen Bright, appellate counsel for Mr. Weis, remains hopeful:
Weis can come back to the court on direct appeal after conviction, and he can petition the federal courts for habeas corpus relief,” Bright said. “I am confident that the Supreme Court or some other reviewing court will recognize the constitutional violation and set aside any conviction that might be obtained. It is just unfortunate that the way the Georgia Supreme Court is treating the right to counsel could not have been corrected at this time in order to avoid unnecessary trials that will be reversed.
The Washington Post chronicled the disturbing story in its September 25 edition.