Tag Archives: Southern Center for Human Rights

The (Theoretical) Right to Counsel

A lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Fulton County by several law firms and public interest organizations seeking to revamp the State’s public defender system, in particular its ability to supply effective attorneys to individuals in need of appellate representation.  Some of Georgia’s most prominent law firms are litigating this case, including the Southern Center for Human Rights; Garland, Samuel and Loeb; and Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore.  Not to mention my good friend and colleague, Stephen R. Scarborough.

The complaint is available here (PDF – 2.87 MB).

Who’s Your Daddy? Invisible Man, of course.

The AJC has an interesting and disturbing story about Frank Hatley who was ordered to serve time for failing to pay child support for a son that was not his.

Here’s how the story begins:

Frank Hatley has languished in a South Georgia jail for more than a year.

The reason? He failed to reimburse the state for all the public assistance his “son” received over the past two decades.

The problem? Hatley is not the biological father — and a special assistant state attorney general and a judge knew it but jailed Hatley anyway.

This is one of the few situations where the involvement of a lawyer actually helped.  According to the story, only after a sheriff spoke to an attorney on Mr. Hatley’s behalf, did this story come to light.  And, let’s admit it, airing the story in the court of public opinion is often if not more important than trying it in a court of law.   After all, Mr. Hatley cycled through several attorneys, some of whom actually aided him in material aspects of the case, but nevertheless failed to resolve the critical issue of why he remained in jail despite not having done anything illegal.  This story was also picked up over at Simple Justice, here.

Today, however, Mr. Hatley was finally released from jail, with the aid of his new attorney, Sarah Gerahty from the Southern Center for Human Rights.  Mr. Hatley’s sentiment post-release?

“Out of it all, I just feel like justice should be served for me in this case.  I shouldn’t have to keep being punished for a child that is not mine.”