It’s court time in Spalding County.
Monday we had trials in two courtrooms. On the third floor of the courthouse, Judge Christopher Edwards cranked up a child molestation case. It was one of those tragic situations where a lonely teenage girl was befriended by a man in his forties. Things progressed until they became criminal. The girl put up with it, presumably for the companionship.
As I hope you know, that doesn’t make it okay. But, sometimes it does make it harder for us to obtain a conviction. It’s even tougher when the defendant has the money to hire a top lawyer. This one did.
The lawyer came to court with an army of character witnesses. It seems we accused a saint of around 10 sex crimes. They claimed our victim had falsely accused others. That she contrived to send naughty messages and pictures to herself from the defendant’s phone. To make matters worse, they claimed, law enforcement was lazy and didn’t gather evidence or, for that matter, do anything right.
On our side, we had a very reluctant victim who never wanted the crimes reported in the first place. And we had Jordan Van Mater. Jordan has been a prosecutor for only a few months. Before that, he was a bankruptcy lawyer for about a year. Las Vegas would have set the odds against us.
Las Vegas would have been very wrong. Jordan, armed with a very important weapon—the truth—duked it out with one of the best criminal defense lawyers in metro Atlanta. All day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday he fought. He researched legal issues. He cross-examined witnesses. He introduced photographs and text messages. And, finally, on Friday he gave an outstanding closing argument.
The jury convicted. The teenager is safe. And the defendant will be in prison for 25 years.
Meanwhile, we presented 54 cases to the grand jury for indictment and I tried and convicted two methamphetamine traffickers on the fourth floor. These guys had an arsenal of automatic and semi-automatic weapons. We owe a debt of gratitude to Spalding Sheriff Wendell Beam’s Special Operations team for their courage in capturing these dealers. It was an honor to assist men like that in court.
Next week, we’ll fight again—this time on three fronts. We’ll have trials in two courtrooms in Spalding and a specially set trial in Upson County.
I have every confidence that the good guys will be ready.