A Georgia man who was jailed for nearly 10 years without being convicted of a crime will now have to wait even longer to have his case resolved. Maurice Jimmerson, who was arrested on murder charges in 2013, finally received a trial this month. But the trial ended with a hung jury, so he's still behind bars.
Jimmerson's lawyer, Andrew Fleischman, argues that the decade his client spent in jail before trial should allow the charges against him to be dismissed.
"You talk about getting hostages out of other countries like North Korea or Iran," Fleischman told Reason last month. "And the average time is six years. We talk about those countries having failed puppet justice systems with no expectation of due process. And yet we have Americans in this country waiting 10 years for an opportunity to force the state to prove its case. And that to me is outrageous."
"That's the longest anybody's been held in custody before a trial outside of [Guantanamo Bay]," Fleischman added.
Two of Jimmerson's co-defendants were acquitted in 2017, but Jimmerson has remained jailed. No one seems exactly sure why. In April, Doughtery County prosecutor Gregory Edwards told Atlanta News First that much of the delay can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, a 2021 courthouse flood, and a decision by a previous judge to try Jimemrson and his co-defendants separately.
Making matters worse for Jimmerson, he was recently left without legal representation for over eight months. In July and August of last year, his public defender repeatedly asked to be released from representing Jimemrson, citing his need to travel frequently to seek medical care for his infant daughter. Court employees apparently lost his request, and they only granted it in April after local journalists pressed the issue.
Fleishman, who is representing Jimmerson pro bono, has filed a motion to have Jimmerson's case dismissed entirely, citing Supreme Court precedent that allows charges to be dismissed if an individual is held in pretrial detention for too long. If his motion is denied, Fleishman says that he will appeal the case to the Georiga Supreme Court.
"We should not punish people before they have been convicted of a crime," says Fleishma. "The process of indicting somebody is just telling 16 to 22 strangers a story for which there is no rebuttal….And to hold somebody for 10 years on just that story—it's a violation of due process."
Jimmerson has a bail hearing set for August 8. Felishman hopes his bail will be set low enough that he can be released while awaiting either his second trial or the dismissal of his case.
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