When certain criminal defense cases hit news, all eyes are drawn to the defendant. It’s often the case that news reports can cast individuals as guilty even before they’ve gone on trial. Despite this perception, everyone who is accused of a crime is entitled to presumed innocence when a trial begins, no matter how much attention the case receives.
The Atlanta area has become consumed by allegations that a number of school district officials artificially boosted test scores in order to make it look like students were learning more. In total, 35 district staff members — including teachers and administrators — have been indicted on criminal charges stemming from the supposed scandal.
Not long ago, the first trial against one of the Atlanta school administrators came to a close. Authorities accused the woman of trying to influence one of the people who was set to testify regarding the larger cheating scandal. As a result, she faced corruption-related charges.
Despite the charges and media attention surrounding this case, the accused woman was recently acquitted of trying to illegally sway a witness. Although critics of the school district still maintain that the accused woman played a major role in coordinating efforts to inflate test scores.
Knowing that this particular trial was the first of many in this case, it may be important to carefully examine the charges filed by prosecutors and the evidence used to support their claims. When large numbers of people are arrested and charged as the result of a criminal investigation, some people may be inadvertently caught in law enforcement’s dragnet. A thoughtful criminal defense can help ensure that charges are warranted and contribute to resolving cases that go to trial.
Source: The New York Times, “First Trial Ends in Acquittal in School Scandal in Atlanta,” Kim Severson, Sept. 6, 2013