VALDOSTA — To avoid potential conflict of interest allegations, the defense team for the “Quitman Twelve” has announced it will bring an additional ten defense attorneys in to represent their clients.
The names of the ten additional lawyers have not been released yet, but Roy W. Copeland of Copeland, Haugabrook & Walker said they will “include Super lawyers and other highly qualified criminal defense and civil rights attorneys.” Chevene B. King, Jr., of C.B. King Law Firm will still be involved with the case. Neither Copeland or King have committed to any particular defendant.
The “Quitman Twelve” include three Brooks County School Board members, along with nine other defendants who were indicted Nov. 22, 2011, on several counts of unlawful possession of ballots, etc., related to hundreds of absentee ballots that arrived in their favor in the 2010 Brooks school board election.
None of the indicted defendants have entered guilty pleas. No judge, date or venue for the trial has been assigned. South Georgia District Attorney Joseph K. Mulholland of Bainbridge will serve as prosecutor on the case.
According to Copeland, each defendant will receive individual counsel, to “preclude the government from raising issues related to a potential conflict of interest.”
“I’ve read the indictment, talked with some of the witnesses,” said Copeland. “We feel pretty good about this issue. I go against the government every case I have. That’s what I do. I’ve represented people against the federal office. It’s just another day at the office.”
On Aug. 1, Lowndes County District Attorney David Miller wrote a letter to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office disqualifying his office from the prosecution to avoid any allegation of a “political prosecution by our office” since current Brooks County School Board Chairman Brad Shealy serves as his Chief Assistant.
Mulholland told the Times, “I feel the case needs to be tried in the courts, rather than the media. Facts and evidence need to be heard in court.”
In an interview with Fox News reporter Eric Shawn in November, Mulholland offered additional insight on the case.
“The really odd thing about this case is that these were primary elections and both incumbents and challengers were Democrats,” he said. “This wasn’t an issue of party politics, it was simply straight-up corruption.”