ATLANTA -- Attorneys for educators indicted in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal worked to try to get the entire case, against all 35 defendants, thrown out during a hearing today before Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter.
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"This entire process is so poisoned," Brian Steel attorney for Lucious Brown, a former principal at Kennedy Middle School, said in court. "This indictment must be dismissed."
Steel argued the statements educators made to GBI investigators were coerced because the employees were told they would lose their jobs if they did not cooperate.
The GBI added 52 investigators to the investigation led by three special investigators appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue in 2010. The trio included former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, former DeKalb District Attorney Bob Wilson and former Atlanta Police Department Detective, Richard Hyde.
"There are two hats being worn by these investigators," Steel told Judge Baxter in opening statements. "One is you must cooperate or your subject to termination. The other is you're going to be prosecuted."
He cited a case that called them "erroneous legal principles."
His first witness, Bowers, was emphatic on the stand that their primary focus of the investigation was on getting to the truth and not about obtaining information for criminal prosecution.
When Steel asked him Bowers where he got the information he needed when he appeared before a grand jury, the question clearly annoyed Bowers.
"I lived with this thing for about two years," Bowers said. "I can't forget it. I can't forget it right now. It's one of the most of the most important things I've worked on in 40 years of law practice. I can't forget it."
Bowers' testimony ended early so he could make it to a doctor's appoint.
He returns to the stand Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.