Athens continues cover-up of Jennifer Stone murder

Posted in the Athens Forum

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Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#3 May 13, 2007
Mayor Heidi Davison, 235 Wells Dr., Athens, GA 30606, mayor@athensclarkecounty.com.
District 1 Commissioner Doug Lowry, 190 Hancock Lane, Athens, GA 30605, doug@idigdoug.org
District 2 Commissioner Harry Sims, 170 Cone Dr., Athens, GA 30601.
District 3 Commissioner George C. Maxwell, P. O. Box 7073, Athens, GA 30604,, revgm@msn.com.
District 4 Commissioner Alice Kinman, 323 Milledge Terrace, Athens, GA 30606, akinman@charter.net.
District 5 Commissioner David Lynn, 226 Hill St., Athens, GA 30601,, david@davidlynn.org.
District 6 commissioner Carl Jordan, 185 Kings Rd., Athens, GA 30606, carljordanacc@charter.net.
District 7 commissioner Kathy Hoard, 248 Springdale St., Athens, GA 30606, khoard@charter.net.
District 8 commissioner Andy Herod, 315 Brookwood Dr., Athens, GA 30605, andyherodathens@yahoo.com.
District 9 commissioner Kelly Girta, 562 Pulaski St., Athens, GA 30601, kgirtz@yahoo.com.
District 10 commissioner Elton Dodson, 310 Three Oaks Dr., Athens, GA 30607, elton@dodsonlaw.com.
Above are the names, addresses of the mayor and 10 commissioners of the "Unified" Government of Athens Clarke County, Georgia. Their telephone numbers are published on the website www.athensclarkecounty.com . Every one of the approximately 100,000 citizens of this area should write, call and e-mail them about the vital subject of police and government secrecy in Athens and ask them why they have not voted to immediately comply with the Georgia Court of Appeals order to open the murder investigative files held under strict lock and key, with the full military force of the government, to prevent citizens from learning the truth about this investigation or lack of one. Ask them what secret conversations they have had with the current police chief Lumpkin, or the county attorney Berryman or the district attorney Mauldin and what information was presented to them, by these "public servants" in secret, to persuade them, especially the newly elected dupes on the commission, to vote for secrecy rather than vote for openness in government? When they refuse to answer or discuss these issues, then ask them if we truly have a "representative" government or one differing little from those some of our ancestors fought so hard to rid the world of; namely, one based on secrecy rather than open, honest, government? And then, you might ask Commissioner Jordan, the normally outspoken member who drags meetings well after the hour most people are in bed, why he is so silent on this vital issue of government secrecy and apparent police and government corruption?
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#4 May 13, 2007
Every one of the roughly 100,000 citizens of Athens Clarke County, Georgia should ask themselves why the government here is so intent on keeping the investigation, or lack of one, of the murder and sexual assault of Jennifer Lynn Stone secret, hidden behind the full military force of the government from citizens to observe and read and evaluate?
What are they hiding? This horrible crime happened just over 15 years ago, April 23, 1992. Only a few years after the crime, the representatives of this former government again went to court and obtained a court order from a state court judge in another county declaring these records "state secrets". This was in response to another lawyer, the late Scott McLarty, who took the gloves off with this corrupt and criminal government and demanded they open the files to him as they had already done for lawyer Tolley as documented in articles in the former Athens Observer. As the very courageous lawyer Mr. McLarty said, or words to the effect, "if the records have been provided to Mr. Tolley, they are no longer secret and must be made available to others." This consistency argument fell on deaf ears with the dupe state judge in another county who ruled with the local criminal government Athens Clarke County then. Today, over a decade later, this same government is using public tax money to pay lawyers to feverishly obtain a similar order from the Georgia Supreme Court, overruling the Georgia Court of Appeals, so they will not have to be embarrassed by opening up the police investigation of Jennifer Lynn Stone. By the way, it is very likely much of this investigation has already been destroyed or "mysteriously" disappeared. After all, how would a citizen know; it is all secret isn't it?
But we are supposed to "trust" the police and local mayor and commissioners to always tell us the truth shouldn't we?
But they won't trust the citizens to evaluate the efficiacy of this investigation do they? So why should we trust them? Please Mr. & Ms. Supreme Court Justice of Georgia: Vote to immediately force the Athens Clarke County Government to open all documents, writings, recordings, DNA samples....everything associated with this case immediately, and place any government official failing to cooperate immediately in jail as a federal judge once did with Professor Dinnan when he refused to disclose his secret vote on a UGA promotion committee years ago.
Also, Mr. or Ms. Legislator of Georgia, change the law to permit citizens to sue elected officials personally and hold the personally liable for negligent acts and deny them any legal help paid for by the very taxpayers who have been shafted by them
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#5 May 13, 2007
Secrecy is the enemy of the truth. Who or what persons are mainly responsible for promoting secrecy in government? Lawyers and their teachers, law professors. It is the lawyers who claim "privilege" in communicating with clients. This is their claim when a county attorney, like Mr. Berryman, talks secretly with our elected mayor and 10 commissioners. He likely even advises them to violate the very law he is "sworn" to comply with, but he does so in secret, so no one can call him on it. This illustrates the hypocrisy of lawyers and the law. This principle of lawyer client confidentiality was never intended to keep government information and business secret, out of the knowledge of citizens, but only to protect the rights of a criminal defendant. The lawyers have totally abused this and foolish dupe citizens have failed to act to stop this wrongful and trannical government secrecy, rendering our local government little different than one in former Nazi, Germany our ancestors fought so hard to rid the world of. We can thank the lawyers and their cowardly teachers, the law professors, for this government secrecy nonsense.
Secrecy is the enemy of the truth.
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#6 May 14, 2007
Does government trust its citizens to can a citizen simply send in what he or she believes to be the correct tax to government and thvoluntarily do the right thing in all situations? For example, at is the end of it? No, the government, at every level, is very suspect of citizens and intimidates and threatens them with possible audits, fines and even jail time if the correct tax as determined by government is not paid. With threats like this we obviously do not have a "voluntary" tax system as is often portrayed to unwitting students by unwitting teachers and others. This is obviously a forced tax system. So, even if most citizens are honorable and honest and do not seek to deprive the government of its just tax, the government, through the elected representatives, has determined it to be necessary to use threats and intimidation and fear to obtain the tax from citizens to run government with. Why then, if this is human nature, should citizens trust government officials, like police officers, police chiefs, district attorneys, county attorneys, mayors, commissioners, judges, etc., etc., etc. to do the right and honorable thing in all situations if citizens cannot and are not to be trusted in the same way? But this is exactly the way our elected representatives have stacked the deck: One set of tyrannical rules for citizens, but another set of easy rules for government officials, not only permitting them secrecy in most situations of importance, but even preventing citizens from suing them and if they do, permitting the government officials to use the tax money paid and forced from citizens to defend themselves from any claims by citizens. While there are remote instances of gross government corruption which are prosecuted by federal prosecutors, these are rare indeed and most situations of local corruption will obviously go unprosecuted because no one even knows the facts because those facts are secret protected from public knowledge and disclosure by the full military force and power of the government itself! Isn't this an outrageous situation to put it mildly and avoid expletives? In other words, all citizens are suspect at all times, but if police are placed in a room with thousands or millions of dollars in cash or drugs, we are expected to assume and indulge them that nothing untoward will happen and they will not skim some of those drugs or drug money for their own use. Does everyone forget the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden? What about natural human tempation? This is obviously absurd not to have any controls in such situations, but that is exactly how our government in Georgia is constructed. This is foolish nonsense since citizens have lost any and all controls of government because of secrecy.
Drugs are likely at the bottom of the Jennifer Stone murder and sexual assault and it is very likely some dishonest police or other government officials were on the take and somehow she became a witness to this illegal and corrupt conduct and lost her life as a result. Continued below.
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#7 May 14, 2007
But to add salt into the wound, we now have the spectacle of elected government dupes in AThens Clarke County, Georgia blindly and obediently supporting and encouraging this apparent corruption and even voting to pay lawyers untold sums of public tax money, possibly even out of state lawyers, all secret, to file a legal brief to attempt to overturn an existing order by the Georgia Court of Appeals to open the case file and finally present the truth to the public for a change. What about the public interest? These pompous so and so's don't even have the consideration to hold public hearings to determine what the public even thinks about all this before they voted, in secret, to authorize these possibly millions of dollars to anonymous lawyers. It is very difficult to find polite words in the polite English vocabulary to describe this conduct by elected commissioners and the mayor of Athens Clarke County, Georgia in this situation. The best scams are those in which the victim (the citizens in this case) does not even know he or she was fleeced.
Correction above: Delete "can a citizen" line 1 and th in front of voluntarily.

tempation replaced with temptation.
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#8 May 14, 2007
Dear Mr. and Ms. Supreme Court Justice of Georgia. The citizens of the "Unified" Government of Athens Clarke County Georgia have been had, fleeced, shafted, taken advantage of, disrespected, dishonored, disenfranchised, disregarded, treated like horse manure,...., by the very government that purportedly "represents" those citizens, and which was "elected" by a minority of the registered voters in the jurisdiction, rendering this government defacto minority rule and defacto illegal.
They are and have been for many years engaged in a sham effort to avoid public disclosure of the investigative police files for a former UGA student murdered and sexually assaulted over 15 years ago. They have repeatedly lied to the public about this sham investigation of this crime. She could have been any of your daughters, granddaughter or loved one. How would you like to be treated this way if she were one of your loved ones?
You have an opportunity to render justice in this situation. If any error or uncertainty exists, it should be made in favor of justice, openness and citizen interest and concern, not selfish corrupted government interests. Citizens pay the taxes to operate government. Government exists solely at the pleasure of citizens. This government of Athens Clarke County obviously holds it citzens in total contempt. Therefore you as a body, must deliver the bad news to the criminal, corrupt and conspiratorial government and immediately force them to tell and disclose the truth about this sordid case once and for all to the citizens who have been fleeced all these years, not to mention the loved ones and parents, if they are still alive of Jennifer Stone. How could you rule any other way? FORCE the officials of Athens Clarke County to finally, at long last, do what they should have done over a decade ago; admit they are wrong for once and for all! Open for public inspection every writing, every tape recording, every molecule of evidence wherever it may be in this case under the same threat of fines and jail time this government threatens its subjects with to seek to coerce and intimidate citizens to obey their often illegal "laws".
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#9 May 15, 2007
While the Athens Banner Herald has published a number of articles over the years on the Jennifer Stone Murder case, it never performed a detailed investigation as was performed by the former Athens Observer, the weekly newspaper owned at the time by local businessman Marion Cartwright et al. These investigative reports consisted of about 13 articles written and investigated by award winning investigative journalist Elton Manzione, a former top graduate of UGA in journalism. Mr. Manzione even won a national award for investigative journalism for his series on the former sordid affair of school superintendent Ballentine during the period lawyer Tolley was school board president and his wife was also an employee there. These articles were published during the 1995-1996 period shortly after the crime so they are very convincing. Unfortunately this was before the internet so they were not originally online. Copies of them have been placed in a vertical file in the Heritage Room, Athens Public Library for all citizens to read. They are also available on microfilm at the UGA library. Efforts to have the Athens Banner Herald or Flagpole Magazine republish the all ended in failure. Some have been published on the website www.athens101.com also and may be available in their archives.
A reading of these documents confirms the dictum that truth is stranger than fiction and discloses a story of intrigue involving lawyers, judges, school superintendents, special favors for special people by government officials and a general atmosphere of corruption by many who put on a good public relations front to the contrary, not the least of which is the "Unified" Government of Athens Clarke County, Georgia itself and many of its employees or former employees from the "top" down, or possibly the bottom up. This case has similarities to the Martha Moxley case in Connecticut except that here, since lawyers and judges are involved, the difficulties in bringing out the truth are compounded to the point of virtual impossibility since these people are so adept at covering up the truth with fiction and secrecy. Drugs, drug informants and drug money and corruption are likely a the bottom of it all.
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#10 May 15, 2007
Recently the Georgia Bureau of Investigation sought to discredit Mr. Manzione with some sham charges against Mr. Manzione to divert public attention from his articles in this case which are the only factual and documented story of what happened in this case since all the police records are held under secret lock and key by the full military force of the police and government itself protected even by state law. The GBI is also a part of the corruption of this case since its former director invited help from the public once on a national television program on this case, but did not return telephone calls when citizens sought to provide help. Obviously this was a cheap public relations stunt to seek to fool a gullible and unwitting public that they were truly interested in solving this case, when the exact opposite is evidently true based on the limited information available since all the official information is secret, just like former Nazi, Germany or the former Soviet Union. The "leaders" and lawmakers of Georgia learned well from tyrants didn't they, as the copied them in laws and policies right here in the old USA didn't they? The fact that the corruption in this case extends to the Georgia GBI coupled with the fact that drugs and drug informants are likely or were likely involved, indicates that many more hurdles must be met even if the Georgia Supreme Court takes this case and rules against the "Unified" Government of Athens Clarke County, Georgia, since these corrupt individuals involved will llkely seek help from their "federal bedfellows", the United States Attorney, who have already been a part of this ongoing corruption due to their patent neglectful failure to take this case by the horns and prosecute all local individuals involved for corruption as they did with the former mayor of Atlanta.
Drugs have corrupted our whole society including most police departments, most district attorneys, most county attoneys, many judges, etc., etc., etc. Most citizens are totally oblivious to all this and choose to be fooled by smiling faces and media lies when secrecy is the rule of law and rule of the day.
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#11 May 22, 2007
About one week ago May 15, 2007, I sent the link to this post to the Mayor and all 10 commissioners of Athens Clarke County. I received an immediate reply from one of the new ones Doug Lowry which stated "Hello: Thank you for your e-mail. I'll get back to you very soon."
Not only have I not heard any reply from him, but none of the others have contacted me either. Note that this post is not about special favors for me for some zoning matter or other dispute with the government. It is about documented improper activities by this and earlier governments on a vital issue of justice or lack of it for Jennifer Stone, a former UGA senior, murdered and sexually assaulted April 23, 1992, and covered up by this and earlier governments and others. Yet, these so-called "elected representatives" won't even talk to me about my written comments. Yet they likely talk for hours every day to their friends and cronies about relatively trivial issues upon which they already agree. Do you need any more proof that the claim that we in the United States have "representative" government is an absolute lie?
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#12 May 23, 2007
Dear Mr. or Ms. Supreme Court Justice of Georgia. Even if you or your secretary does not read this entire post, please read and think about the previous entry. Note that the Unified Government of Athens Clarke County Georgia seeks your help in keeping the details of the investigation of the corrupt murder and sexual assault investigation of Jennifer Stone, April 23, 1992, under government forced lock and key, using the full military force of the government, so citizens cannot know and learn the truth about this likely corrupted investation and cover-up from the beginning. Yet, these so-called "representatives" of the people won't even talk to a citizen about his concerns about all this! What kind of government officials are these, acting in secret with their secret meetings with their government taxpayer paid county attorneys like Mr. Berryman, who was not elected by anyone, but routinely rubber stamped by this dupe government body. Ask yourselves, how would YOU like to be a citizen in this corrupt cesspool of Athens Clarke County, Georgia which has changed little from the days of the KKK and racial discrimination. Suppose you were the Mother or Father of Ms. Stone. These decendants of those horror filled days learned well how to shaft citizens and give them the silent treatment didn't they, as their ancestors and predecessors did with the shafted other races in earlier years? Please justices, don't lend your hand and aid these anti -government representatives who routinely abuse their power and trust and arrogantly trample justice and honor and truth under the guise of following the "law". Don't play their corrupted game. Force them to disclose every iota of information about this case PRONTO! And put them in jail PRONTO if they don't cooperate immediately or if they have destroyed files, as they likely have done.
koldkase

Lawrenceville, GA

#13 May 28, 2007
Dr. Abbe,

Your passion and desire for justice for Miss Stone and her family are admirable. I, too, hope the Banner Herald wins in this FOIA case. I think it's time to open the file because it is long cold and opening it to the public might bring out some piece of evidence or publicity that could result in a new lead.

Having said that, you have made a lot of serious accusations against a lot of people without revealing any supporting evidence. Do you have actual evidence of the crimes of conspiracy, obstruction, illegal drug activities, etc.? Perhaps if you shared those, your charges might be taken more seriously.

Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#14 May 29, 2007
Much of the evidence has already been published years ago in the former Athens Observer 1995-1996 in the articles cited above. If you provide your name, address and telephone number I would be happy to send you copies. They are already available at the Athens Public Library, Heritage Room in a "Vertical File" as mentioned above. Some have been published on the site www.athens101.com . Other unpublished evidence comes from comments by citizens of Athens also concerned about this case. For example, the late Calvin Bridges, distinguished citizen of Athens for many years and former Athens' City Councilman, related to me that when he was doing a plumbing job at the home of Judge Gaines , Michael Gaines game to him and volunteered words to the effect "You know, they didn't even question me at all". The comment about the GBI also comes from another distinguished citizen of Athens. With the investigative file held under strict military lock and key by the police department, protected by the government and the courts, this is the only type of evidence available until the file is opened. But that does not mean the evidence is not true. Also, in the "Little" case in Atlanta about 50 years ago, the files "mysteriously" disappeared while in the police custody. The only way the journalists of AJC were able to write recent investigative articles a few years ago was because of the existence of federal files since it was a kidnapping and therefore a federal crime. Hence the speculation that the files about Jennifer Stone are likely destroyed follows this. After all, since everything is continually secret and there is no routine monitoring of police custody of these files, how would one know if they are all there? Lawyer Tolley undisputedly was shown her file early on. He was the lawyer for Michael Gaines. Mr. Tolley did not dispute this as documented in the Observer articles. What is the ethics of showing the file to Tolley if he be the lawyer for the main suspect? One could go on and on. Why is the "Unified" Government of Athens Clarke County so intent on keeping all this under wraps when it is very unlikely anyone will ever be prosecuted for this crime anyway? Obviously they desperately fear the bad publicity which will undoubtedly result if the file is opened, and I predict that even if the Georgia Supreme Court sustains the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Athens Government will obfuscate and find a number of "reasons" to redact and prevent information from being made public. Just watch and see. Justice is delayed is justice denied.
koldkase

Fort Benning, GA

#15 May 29, 2007
Well...maybe. Hearsay isn't exactly reliable evidence, is it?

Unfortunately, I won't have time to check out the newspaper sources you cite anytime soon, and only then would I be able to make a judgment of the merit of your accusations. But thank you for sharing and if I do get that chance, I'll be glad to have that debate with you then. If the Stone files ever do get released, I'll be sure to make the effort then, because I would welcome a chance to look at those files and make up my own mind about that investigation and what might have been missed--deliberately or otherwise.

As to the Chinese whispers about Michael Gaines, I'm not willing to condemn the man because his grandfather is a judge. I can hardly blame the grandson for that or make the leap from guilty of having a lawyer for a relative to guilty of being a murderer.

I did have a conversation last year with a lawyer from the prosecutor's office, whose name I won't share for obvious reasons, in which I mentioned the Stone case and the suspicions about Mr. Gaines that I've heard and read about for years. That lawyer, a young man not old enough to have a professional connection to the DA's Office at the time of the murder, and who had little reason to offer any information at all on the subject as it was a casual conversation, told me that there were leads and suspects that were strong but that eventually hit a dead end. These had to nothing to do with Mr. Gaines, but were connected to the murder by evidence from the crime scene. From what the man said and what I know myself about government and criminal investigation, I read between the lines--not being psychic, this is a sketchy argument on my part at best--and it seems to me that the limits of the investigation finally boil down to a budget, manpower. and the law: you can't beat info out of suspects who won't tell the truth, and detectives have only so many hours a day, while crime never sleeps.

Well, that's what I can add to the discussion. Personally, I wish I had the skill to do the detective work myself, because I think this case might be solved with some committed cold case detectives applying new forensic technology. Does the Athens Police Department have the money and time to do that? I think that's the real question of justice denied here. Unfortunately, it's often the question in solving cases.

One thing I will say: when pondering this FOIA question, when thinking about having a look at the file, I wonder what Miss Stone's parents feel about all of this. As much as I would love to see this brutal murderer brought to justice, I truly do not want to see the Stone family hurt more than they already have been. It's a balance that is hard to gauge: open the file and bring the case in out of the cold, possibly shaking a lead out of it somehow? Or keep it in the darkness of buried records, but spare the family the pain of such public exposure?

I have to hope for the case file to be opened, as that killer was so brutal, I feel confident he committed other crimes of violence. Someone knows who he is, of that I have no doubt. There is some connection that can be made, I believe that. But without some catalyst to jog that process now, he may never answer for murdering this young woman, and he may have continued to victimize others. THAT is unacceptable for me and always will be.

The same goes for Tara Baker's killer, and those of all the other victims of unsolved murders in this county.
koldkase

Fort Benning, GA

#16 May 29, 2007
Oh, and thanks for the link, Dr. Abbe. I'll have a look soon.
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#17 May 30, 2007
No one is saying hearsay is reliable evidence. But until the file is opened, that and other information from journalistic investigations like those published in the Athens Observer as cited above, are all we have. But according to those articles, Mr. Gaines was a main suspect in the crime, along with others. Why would the main suspect not be questioned at all? This is the point. Not whether he is or not guilty of the crime at this point. What all this information does indicate however, is a government cover-up. This is why the files must be released, but the local government will likely do everything in their power to prevent that even if the Georgia Supreme Court sustains the order of the Georgia Court of Appeals. For example, delay and obfuscation is what lawyers do best. They could force citizens to file a separate lawsuit to obtain every word and every piece of evidence so everyone will likely be long gone before anyone learns what is left of the Jennifer Stone Murder File, in addition to being bankrupted, while they use taxpayer money to keep everything under wraps. Isn't it interesting how in the most basic aspects, our legal system differs little from a totalitarian state notwithstanding the blood spilled by many good Americans to protect this "land of the free".
If you really want to understand this case, you must take the time to read the outstanding journalistic articles published in the former Athens Observer. These were researched and documented shortly after the original incident. They might even be better than the file itself or what may be left of it.
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#18 May 30, 2007
It should be noted that there exist many "unsolved" murder and other cases of violent crimes in Athens Clarke County, Georgia over the past 40 odd years, of which the Jennifer Stone murder and sexual assault case is only one. But in the 40+ years I have been here, I can think of no debate in the Georgia Legislature revisiting the issue of police, district attorney and judicial secrecy. The respondent above complains about rumors, etc, but these result from lack of facts because facts are kept under wraps by the full military force and power of Georgia Government provided ultimately by the law written by the Georgia State Legislature. Why should not the law force police departments to open all case files routinely after a certain amount of time? This would provide time for them to solve the cases, but if not solved within a reasonable amount of time, say 3 years, open the case files for all to see. This would possibly aid in the investigations because citizen involvement might solve some cases, and it would also open government to the light of day and the light of truth. Government corruption exists in most cases because of forced secrecy since citizens, not being clarivoyant, are not able to see and observe into the secret depths and files and laboratories and minds of government and government officials. A former case called "The Sunset Rapist" is and remains unsolved so far as I know. Yet, everyone knew the rumor that the authorities knew who was doing these horrible acts, but because the individual was a well known local crony, nothing was being done to apprehend and charge and prosecute the individual. This is just rumor. Again, this is all we have until facts are disclosed. This is the underlying reason the law must be changed to force all governments in GEorgia to open the police files on all cases routinely after a period of time. I am not even sure they now open files routinely when cases are solved. Every citizen must ask themselves: Do we have a government run truly by civilian citizens, or is our government run by lobbying organizations like "Associations of Police Chiefs" or "Georgia Municipal Associations" or "Georgia Associations of County Commissioners", etc., who all have an axe to grind in favor of keeping information about government activities secret, because then citizens never learn any sordid truths about incompetence or corruption in government behind closed doors or the secret machinations in meetings of the county attorney and government body that attorney "represents". The "people" or common citizens, have, quite simply, been left out of the equation. "To hell with them" would be the refrain of politicians, lawyers, commissioners, mayors, police chiefs, etc., behind closed doors. It is the "We know best" mentality which has taken over our institutions, and the Georgia Legislators have aided them in doing so. The citizens have been shafted. This must change. Repeat: This must change lest we degenerate further and closer to a government our ancestors fought so hard to rid the world of. If police and government agencies know that at some point in the near future their files will be made public, they will obviously be much more careful in their investigations and procedures than if they know the file will remain secret forever so there is virtually no, zero, oversight by citizens.
koldkase

Fort Benning, GA

#19 Jun 2, 2007
I agree that the balance between the secrecy needed to investigate and solve a murder case and the public's right to know is a precarious tightrope walk.

What I don't agree with is your "3 year" timeline. It's no secret that many crimes are solved many years later. Having all case files opened to the public after only three years could damage the opportunity for those cases to go to trial with a successful prosecution, as it gives the defense a clear reasonable doubt argument about incriminating statements and witness testimony. Catching a suspect in lies with evidence he's unaware has been collected during the investigation is a key tool in crime solving, after all. So keeping the case file sealed isn't just frivolous nor inherently a conspiratorial coverup of the investigation. Don't go down the slippery slope on that. It's very legitimate to limit case evidence and information publicized in an investigation--at least for a time.

Also, Georgia is not alone in the power of the District Attorney to decide what csses go forward, what cases are sealed, etc. Most District Attorneys in the country have almost unchecked autonomy in this. Police departments everywhere are also as likely to be corrupted at the same rate as the rest of the human race, I imagine. The price of integrity, honesty, and unyielding scruples seems to me to be quite steep on this planet, in my experience, and in public service, it's a career-breaker. Even the truest heart can be weakened in a search for the unbiased truth, will tire from the simple exhaustion of swimming upstream in a river flowing with "the banality of evil," and will likely be quite alone on that trip. When speaking truth to power, it's all degrees of gray, I've found, and almost impossible to negotiate because you are outnumbered by masters at disguising the truth. Rationalizing and justifying questionable behavior is not hard for those who hold all the options. In trying to fight injustice at this level, one truly discovers how legally impotent the common American citizen really is.

What is most amazing and hopeful about this FOIA battle, however, is the Banner Herald's role in it. Without their money and power to fight for the release of these records, we wouldn't even be here discussing appeals. I assume the reasons they're doing it are not altogether altruistic, and that's how jaded I am. Whatever their reasons, they seem to be committed and I hope they keep going until they win.

I personally think it is time to release the Stone case file because I do think 15+ years is too long to solve it now without some outside catalyst. Keeping it sealed at this point impedes any movement forward in the case. People get older, move on, memories fade, etc., so time is on the side of the criminal.

But these are weighty matters involving life and death. Since we have to trust someone to do the job of cleaning up the worst of humanity, we have to hope that most law officials are good people who do their honest best. Those who do the dangerous and stressful job of law enforcement do not view a murder scene with a young victim and whistle while they work. It means something to them, something profound that those of us who have never had that responsibility cannot fathom. So until I see the evidence, I cannot collectively disparage those who bravely protect us as best as they can against the worst of humans with a broad brushstroke based on speculation.

I look forward to finding out the truth, along with you, Dr. Abbe.
koldkase

Fort Benning, GA

#20 Jun 2, 2007
I think you have a good idea, there, Dr. Abbe, for a set, universal time limit for a case to be unsealed. I think 10 years might be a good limit. I don't think it will ever happen, though, because District Attorneys, like all politicians, aren't going to willingly give up any power, are they? So who would push such a bill through and get it passed?

In California, the Black Dahlia file is still withheld by the LAPD. That case has been suspected of corruption for over 60 years now. They have no good reason to withhold the file but that they don't want people to see the truth. I believe much of that file has disappeared, as well.

Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#21 Jun 2, 2007
Much of the corruption in police and district attorneys and judicial departments today, 2007, revolves around drugs and the tempation these very valuable and very marketable items place on all involved. I urge you to read the recent statement by the former Chief of Police of the Seattle, Washington, Police Department. The statement was published in the Los Angeles Times. He believes they must be legalized because all police departments have been corrupted by them. It is very likely the Stone case revolves around drugs too. This is illustrated in the articles I cited in the former Athens Observer which you state you do not have time to read. Many of our laws on police secrecy were written before the current scourge of drugs, drug money and drug corruption of police and court and district attorney officials. This is another reason the lawmakers must revisit this issue today, 2007. And they must revisit it virtually in all states.
While old crimes are sometimes solved, most crimes are solved in the first year or so. After that the chance of solving them is very low. One must err on the side of openness and truth, not on the side of corruption, lest we degenerate to what is now happening South of the Border, where the criminals have taken over the system and anarchy prevails. This may even have happened here, but because of secrecy we don't know it. We are taught not to take the law into our own hands. But if there is not law or it is corrupted, then this dictum falls. Mexico is in virtual anarchy today because of long term corruption there. Here it is hidden from most people with the aid of the local newspapers and secrecy provided by the "law" itself. Ignorance is bliss.
A few years ago I offered to put up $1,000 if the Athens BAnner Herald and Flagpole Magazine would sue to have the Jennifer Stone File opened.
What is disturbing is the silence of most people on this issue. Many of your comments are good, valid ones, but even you fail to provide your true name, telephone number and address. Most people obviously won't comment at all, and this sends the wrong signal to lawmakers. People are obviously afraid of their government and possible reprisals against them should they offer their opinions on this. Obviously there is something wrong with our system ("something rotten in Denmark") of government if so many citizens fear their government at every level. The evidence is that the Athens BAnner Herald, while to be commended for bringing this case forward, still treats Athens Clarke County with kid gloves, likely because it fears higher taxes on its multi million dollar building. Many citizens could have the same fear. One citizen who recently sued the ACC government and won, had his taxes raised likely as a reprisal. The power to tax is a powerful one, especially when the state legislature provides virtually no realistic way to challenge tax assessments at a reasonable cost.
Winfield J Abbe

AOL

#22 Jun 2, 2007
Many good and law abiding citizens of Athens, Georgia believe that the late Scott McLarty, the lawyer for the late Carol Purvis, who courageously took the gloves off with Judge Gaines and the Athens Government in that case, was set up and sent to prison, where he died, as a reprisal for his actions in that case. After all, the police and judicial officials and district attorneys have plenty of drugs to set someone up with don't they, and their secret operations aids them in any such endeavors don't they? This is another very important reason why secrecy must be removed and why you must read the articles cited above in the Athens Observer to understand the Stone case. Secrecy laws make such activities very difficult to prove. These laws must be changed if we are to survive as a civilized society.

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