NOTEWORTHY CASES

2008 |
State of Georgia v. Nichols

Brian Nichols was being tried for the rape of his former girlfriend on March 11, 2005 in the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, when he escaped from custody. He shot and killed the judge presiding over his trial, a court reporter, a sheriff’s deputy, and, later that night, a federal law enforcement agent. After a large-scale manhunt, Nichols was captured and taken into custody 26 hours after his escape. He was charged with a 54-count indictment and faced multiple capital charges. Jake Sussman was appointed along with attorney Henderson Hill to represent Nichols. The pre-trial litigation involved hundreds of motions, scores of hearings, and multiple trips to the Georgia Supreme Court on issues related to the case. Media attention was extensive, and the case was closely followed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and featured in the New York Times and the New Yorker. Jury selection lasted approximately two months and trial lasted nearly three months. On December 13, 2008, against extraordinary odds, Nichols’ life was spared by the jury and he was sentenced to multiple life sentences without parole.

 
2008 |
United States v. Saxon

Missy Owen and Noell Tin represented Sallie Saxon, who ran what federal prosecutors called “the most successful prostitution business in the United States.” Nicknamed “the Southpark Madame” by the media, Saxon employed a high-end ring of call girls and maintained a confidential list of 1200 clients which included lawyers, doctors, and bank executives. Facing up to 20 years in federal prison, Saxon was ultimately sentenced to 2 years of incarceration. As Owen commented, “Sallie was very good to the women who worked for her. She did all she could to limit the harm they might face as prostitutes.”

 
2008 |
State v. Jones

Mark Kleinschmidt was part of the defense team for Levon “Bo” Jones, who was finally released from custody after 15 years — 13 of which were spent on death row — for a crime he did not commit. Mr. Jones came within weeks of execution in 1997, his life saved only after Kleinschmidt and co-counsel Ken Rose of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation intervened and rescued the case from counsel who missed a critical filing deadline. After the conviction and sentence were vacated, all charges were dropped against Mr. Jones after the Duplin County District Attorney’s Office concluded that there was no evidence to bring his case before a jury. Mr. Jones’ case was the 129th exoneration in the United States since the death penalty resumed in the late 1970s. The story of Levon “Bo” Jones was later featured in The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row Inamtes by John Temple.