Georgia has a crime called "Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property." Basically, it means that just because you find something that someone else has lost doesn't mean you get to keep it. One would think that a Georgia lawyer working as a Public Defender would know that. Unfortunately not, according to the Augusta Chronicle:
An Augusta lawyer surrendered to authorities Tuesday morning on a felony charge in connection with a lost diamond ring.
[The attorney] surrendered at the Columbia County Detention Center on a charge of theft of lost or mislaid property, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. [The attorney] was booked into jail Tuesday morning and released after posting a $2,500 bond, Morris said.
Jane G. Prater, 62, of Thomson, reported the ring missing Feb. 12. She told deputies that she lost the ring, worth about $10,500, in the parking lot about 7 p.m. Feb. 7. A server at the restaurant said a woman who was with [the attorney] went inside and asked what to do if she found a ring.
“(The) woman opted not to leave it with Cracker Barrel with the manager in control of lost and found and made a comment that it would be reported to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office,” Morris said. “And it never was.”
Morris published surveillance video from the restaurant in hopes of identifying the woman Feb. 19. The same day, nearly two weeks after the ring was lost, [the attorney] took the ring to Richmond County authorities.
A warrant was issued for [the attorney] for theft of lost or mislaid property. The charge is a felony because the ring is worth more than $1,500, Morris said. He said that by law, when “a person comes into control of property that they know to be lost or mislaid, they must take reasonable measures to restore the property to its owner.”
“That did not occur in this case,” Morris said.
Tanya Jeffords, one of four attorneys representing [the attorney], released a statement on behalf of her client Tuesday:
“No matter what shadow the Sheriff and the District Attorney’s office tries to cast upon [the attorney's] impeccable reputation and her motives, the legal fact is that she did not appropriate the ring for her own use, which is the crime this statute is intending to cover. When she learned who the owner was through the postings online from the Sheriff’s office, she promptly turned it in. She knew it was valuable but she had neither sold it nor wore the ring as if it was hers.”
FOUR attorneys? Okay, I will take a colleague to traffic court if I get a speeding ticket, but I still think one attorney is enough. Why four? She has probably "hired" any attorney friend who might have gotten subpoenaed as a witness against her. Now they can't be subpoenaed to testify against her. Clever. It's like if four lawyers are in a car driving home from the bar when the driver gets arrested for DUI. He can hire the other three lawyers to represent him so they can't be subpoenaed to testify to how much they saw him drink.
Paula Frederick, the general counsel for the Georgia Bar Association, said no disciplinary action will be taken against [the attorney] unless she is convicted.
It's not "Georgia Bar Association." It's "State Bar of Georgia."
“If she is convicted of a crime, that is a violation of the rules of professional conduct,” said Frederick.
Frederick said that if convicted, the bar association will ask the Georgia Supreme Court, which has the authority to discipline lawyers, for an “appropriate discipline.” If convicted of a felony, Frederick said, the bar association would likely ask for her to be disbarred.
All of that, for a ring...
Don't miss a single post! To be alerted when a new blog post appears (about every other day or so), click on "Subscribe to Blog" near the top of this page.