I've heard about the "do nothing" legislative session of 2009, but from a prosecutor's viewpoint, it was by no means a bust.
SB13 changed Georgia law to allow a prosecutor to seek Life Without Parole (LWOP) instead of the death penalty when the facts lend themselves toward life in prison instead of the ultimate penalty. Previously a prosecutor had to seek the death penalty to get LWOP, which drove up the costs and lengthened the time that it took to get justice for the victim's family.
HB575 addressed a recent Supreme Court of Georgia decision that had gutted kidnapping, making it virtually impossible to obtain that conviction. The new law makes Georgia's kidnapping law enforceable and comparable to other states.
HB123 made changes to Georgia' child molestation laws to bring us in line with current technology that is used by those that prey on our children. The new law makes it child molestation "in the presence of" a child even if the offender and child are not physically together. Video cameras over the Internet have changed this dynamic and HB123 encompasses that.
HB151 provides that victims will have an even greater say in sentencing of the criminals that have impacted the victim and their family.
Finally, sometimes the best action on laws are the ones that don't get passed. HB24 would have made huge changes to the Georgia Evidence Code that could have caused massive litigation of tens of thousands of existing criminal cases. The rewrite of the evidence code was sold on adopting the Federal rules, but it was really subterfuge for criminal lawyers to gut some of Georgia's strongest laws that ensure the criminals face real justice.
I want to thank Rep. Larry O'Neal, Rep. Willie Talton, Rep. Tony Sellier, Rep. Budden Harden, Senator Ross Tolleson and Senator Cecil Staton for their constant support of these issues and their willingness to talk to me during the session about the important issues that face Georgia's crime victims. Each one of them opened their door and gave of their time to meet with me and listen to my concerns. The public is well served by each of these honorable men.
Now, if they could find a pot of gold to send our way so that our prosecutors are not furloughed.
Kelly R. Burke