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John A. Steakely

Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.

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Famous False Confession Cases

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I've written elsewhere in the blog about false confessions, but most people don't realize there are some very famous cases involving false confessions, including the Lindbergh Baby, the Black Dahlia, the "Central Park Jogger" cases from the 1980's, and Atlanta's own John Mark Carr

Police are trained in getting people to talk.  Sometimes, they do their job too well, getting people to confess to things they didn't do.  Most people think of torture and physical abuse when they think about making someone admit to a crime they didn't commit, but police tactics can be much more subtle.

Using techniques as subtle as where they sit you in the room to more cliche techniques like "Good Cop / Bad Cop", police can often pressure people into talking.  "Pressure" may not even be the best word, as the initial attempt is usually to make the subject feel very comfortable and safe talking to the officer.

But how do the police give people the information the people need to sound guilty?  Police can, accidentally or intentionally, "seed" or "plant" facts and information into the conversation that the target picks up as their own information.  If it is a case that has been in the news, it's not hard to gleen facts or fill in blanks to make a story seem like it's coming from someone who was there for the crime.

False confessions lead to false guilty pleas.  Of the people exonorated by DNA, some of them pled guilty!  Why plea to a crime they know they didn't commit?  Often it is to avoid the death penalty or a lifetime in prison (as opposed to decades). 

The points to take from this are that just because someone confesses doesn't mean they are guilty.  Just because they plea guilty doesn't mean they are.  All this trouble starts with people talking to the police on their own without a lawyer present, so NEVER DO IT.

 

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Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.


He was selected by the National College of District Attorneys to attend advanced legal seminars in Santa Fe, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Houston. In 2000, he was appointed to the position of Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee by Attorney General Janet Reno, and reappointed again the following year.


In 2001, he accepted an offer from the Gwinnett County District Attorneys Office and spent the next four years representing the State of Georgia in several hundred serious felony cases.   He continues to handle the most serious of cases, often winning outright dismissals of charges, or significant reductions for his clients.  For more about the type of cases Mr. Steakley has handled, click here:  Selected Criminal Cases


SteakleyCh5336x280In 2006 he was a founding partner of Crosby, Haldi & Steakley, LLC, located in Decatur.  Now in private practice since 2007 as John A. Steakley, P.C., headquartered in Marietta, he represents individuals in a wide variety of matters, using his experience to provide his clients with quality legal representation. He is licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Georgia, but focuses almost solely on Georgia.  


In 2012, the Georgia Supreme Court certified him as a Mentor for theTransition Into Law Practice Program, serving as a role model and mentoring young attorneys just entering into the practice of law.  This came on the heels of years of coaching the Emory University Law School's Mock Trial Team in how to be effective and successful courtroom litigators.


In addition to advocating for his clients in the courtroom, Mr. Steakley is a strong proponent of individual liberties.  He co-authored a scholarly work on whether the United States Constitution afforded citizens the right to record their interactions with police even in private places.  This article has garnered attention and raised awareness about this timely legal-technology issue, and was named one of the "Must Read Articles of 2012" by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. 


He is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, the Tennessee Court of Civil Appeals, the State Bar of Georgia, the Georgia Supreme Court, the Georgia Court of Appeals, Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Gwinnett County Bar Association, and Cobb County Bar Association.


When not practicing law, Mr. Steakley is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys flying around the Southeast.  He has been a pilot since 1999.

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