Georgia Supreme Court to Consider Effects of Delayed and Unfunded Representation in Death Penalty Case

On November 10, the Georgia Supreme Court will hear arguments from attorneys for a capital defendant, Jamie Weis, and from the state concerning a three-and-a-half year delay in bringing his case to trial. For two years of that delay, the Weis defense team had no funding, and for 14 months he was completely without representation. During this entire time, the state was staffed and funded to prepare its prosecution of Weis. The Court will decide whether Weis’s constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated and whether that requires a dismissal of charges, or at least prevents the state from seeking the death penalty. Weis was arrested and charged with murder in 2006. He was assigned two attorneys, but because of a crisis in the state’s indigent defense system, they were forced to resign and were not reassigned with pay until close to the trial date. Weis suffers from psychosis, depression and anxiety, and has been detained in a county jail. He has attempted suicide three times while awaiting trial.

The state asserts that much of the delay was caused by Weis’s attorneys and that the problems in the indigent defense system should not be attributed to the state. They also ask the Court to decide these issues after the trial, during the ordinary appeals process.

(See Weis v. Georgia, No. S09A1951 (Ga. Sup. Ct., pretrial appeal to be argued Nov. 10, 2009)). See Weis’s Brief and State of Georgia’s Brief. See also Representation and Costs.