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Ashleigh Service provider, The Service provider Regulation Agency, Atlanta. (Picture: John Disney/ALM)

The Georgia Supreme Court docket selected Thursday to listen to a pretrial attraction over whether or not the state ought to pay for consultants and investigators employed by the non-public attorneys who agreed to offer professional bono protection within the case of a person accused of murdering trainer and sweetness queen Tara Grinstead 15 years in the past.

In an unsigned order, the court docket granted Ryan Duke’s utility for interlocutory attraction:

“The Court docket is especially involved with the next: Did the trial court docket err in holding that an indigent defendant in a legal case who’s represented by non-public, professional bono counsel doesn’t have a constitutional proper or a statutory proper underneath the Indigent Protection Act, OCGA § 17-12-1 et seq., to state-funded consultants and investigators?”

The justices set deadlines for discover of attraction and briefing on the query.

“We’re very happy that the Supreme Court docket agreed that this concern was so essential that it wanted to be heard previous to trial,” Ashleigh Service provider of the Service provider Regulation Agency in Marietta mentioned. The Service provider Agency is defending Ryan Duke professional bono, together with John Gibbs of Troutman Sanders.

On the opposite facet is Tifton Judicial Circuit District Lawyer C. Paul Bowden. He couldn’t be reached for remark.

“This is a matter that impacts our whole state and all indigent defendants’ potential to obtain a good trial,” Service provider mentioned. “That is additionally essential to the authorized group as a result of the lack to acquire consultants and different ancillary companies which can be needed for a good trial serves as a restrict on attorneys’ potential to simply accept professional bono or ‘low bono’ work.”

It’s the second attempt. The excessive court docket thought of, then dismissed, an utility for attraction on the identical query final June.

“So after we misplaced that case, we renewed our motions within the trial court docket and—based mostly on feedback that the Supreme Court docket felt this was essential and wanted to be heard pretrial—the decide re-entered (and re-denied) our authentic motions and this time granted a certificates of fast overview,” Service provider mentioned.

Duke dismissed his public defender to rent the Service provider Agency once they provided to take his case professional bono.

“Our indigent protection system wants attorneys to be keen to simply accept professional bono or low bono authorized illustration of legal defendants,” Service provider mentioned, noting an “already overburdened public defender system.”

Though he nonetheless has not been tried, this won’t be the primary time Duke’s case has gone earlier than the Supreme Court docket. The justices heard oral arguments in October 2017 over a gag order imposed on attorneys, police and even witnesses by then-Irwin County Superior Court docket Decide Melanie Cross, who has since stepped down. The case is now earlier than Tifton Judicial Circuit Chief Decide William Reinhardt II.

“We’re right here at the moment due to that rarest of judicial treatments—a gag order,” S. Derek Bauer of Baker & Hostetler, representing WXIA 11 Alive TV in Atlanta and WXIA TV in Macon, instructed the court docket at the moment, throughout a particular session on the College of Georgia regulation college in Athens. Whereas the U.S. Supreme Court docket has all the time “left open the chance” of the necessity to prohibit communications to guard the proper to a good trial, it was all the time meant as a “treatment of final resort,” Bauer mentioned.

“Safety from prior restraint is a main assure of the Structure,” Bauer mentioned then. “Our lifestyle doesn’t enable the federal government to say you can’t communicate on these subjects.”

Bauer gained. However that attraction delayed the case for 2 years.

Then, simply because the trial was beginning, this new attraction put the brakes on once more.

Duke was arrested in 2017 and charged within the mysterious disappearance of Grinstead—the highschool historical past trainer, Miss Tifton and Miss Georgia contestant from 2005. After serving to out on the Miss Georgia Candy Potato Pageant and attending a cookout on the household house of a former college superintendent, she headed again to her neat, white wooden body home within the one-stoplight farm city of Ocilla and was by no means seen once more.

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