I’ve never really considered myself to be nimble. It’s not likely that you’ll ever see me on “Dancing With the Stars.”
But as I reflect on the past week, I think I managed to be a little bit nimble. Not in the physical sense. Maybe a better word for it is “adaptive.”
For example, I’m adapting to the unintended effects of new laws. I’m sure nobody in the General Assembly meant to fill jury pools with convicted felons when they broadened the lists from which jurors are chosen to include licensed drivers. But, that is what is happening all over the state.
I’m getting reports from District Attorneys from all corners of Georgia that their grand juries include as many as five convicted felons. All that does is nullify everything that the grand jury accomplished. Every indictment is defective. Every conviction obtained on those indictments is suspect. It’s a mess.
So, in a burst of “nimbleness”—if that is a word—we ran criminal histories on all of our new grand jurors in Fayette this week. It cost us half a day of work at a time when we need to be preparing for four weeks of trials. But, that’s what nimble prosecutors do.
That same day, I received a call. The sentencing hearing that had been scheduled for 1:30 that afternoon in Spalding was being moved up to 11:00. That was about the time I was planning to interview a job applicant. Nimbly (if that is a word) I left the Fayette Grand Jury and drove to Spalding. At 11:00, my applicant was there, but the hearings before mine were still underway. I started the interview, then left in the middle of it when I received the call that the court was ready for me.
A small glitch forced a recess until after lunch. So, the hearing started at 1:30 after all. Except it didn’t. Instead, the defense lawyer wanted to discuss a matter with the judge and me in chambers. It turns out that he wanted to withdraw from the case. When that didn’t work, we went back into the courtroom and held the sentencing hearing.
By now, my head was spinning. Still, with all the nimbleness of a ballerina, I shared with the judge the evidence in aggravation of sentencing (that’s what we call it when we reveal the prior convictions that should justify a long sentence).
Now, it was the head of Ricardo Morales that was spinning. Since this conviction for drug trafficking was his fourth felony offense, he was eligible for recidivist treatment. That means no parole. And since one of his prior convictions was for possession with intent to distribute a Schedule 2 drug, he could receive life in prison.
To make matters worse, he had an arsenal of automatic and semi-automatic weapons and thousands of dollars of cash when he committed the crime for which he was being sentenced.
The judge gave him life in prison, plus ten years. There is no possibility of parole.
So, if Ricardo Morales shows up on a list of jurors, we don’t need to check his history. Strike him off the list.