Superior Court Judge Robert Flournoy III threw out the indictment against Brown on March 22, ruling that it was handed down in a courtroom that was not open to the public.
Per Georgia law, all indictments must be presented in an open courtroom. Brown’s indictment was handed down on Jan. 6 in Cobb Superior Court Judge George Kreeger’s courtroom in the new county courthouse on Haynes Street, which did not technically open to the public until Jan. 10. The doors to the new courthouse were locked and armed sheriff’s deputies guarded the catwalk from the old courthouse into the new building. Media and others were allowed access to the catwalk, but had to be escorted by an official.
That same day, Head said, about 30 other indictments were handed down. Any defense attorney whose client was indicted that day, in the same fashion as Brown’s indictment, could challenge it on the same grounds as Brown’s attorney, former Gov. Roy Barnes, did.
“There were 30-something indictments that day,” Head said. “(Brown’s dismissed indictment) is still relatively new, and (an attorney) can file it at any time until you actually start the trial. I’m not encouraging them to do it.”
Head said he has yet to hear from any other attorneys who had clients that were indicted on Jan. 6.
When asked if he was worried, Head said: “Worried, that’s not the right word. It does give me some concern whether these cases are in jeopardy of attack. If they do, we’ll handle it like we do everything else.”
But the Jan. 6 indictments are not all that’s at issue, he said. Many other kinds of hearings also require law-enforcement escorts. Probation-revocation hearings, which are held at the jail, are one type.
“And in order to do that, you have to be escorted,” which also causes a delay, he said.
Meantime, Head’s office is preparing to appeal Flournoy’s ruling to the Court of Appeals. Head said he will request oral arguments be heard, but that will be decided by the Court.
As for how long the appeal process might take, Head said: “How long is a piece of string?”
Noted defense attorney Vic Reynolds — who plans to run for District Attorney in 2012, when Head intends to retire — said the state is allowed to re-indict people.
“As a district attorney, (Pat Head) has to be concerned because the ultimate responsibility for prosecuting cases lies with that office,” Reynolds said.