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.