Tamara Cotman found not guilty in Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial

10:54 PM, Sep 6, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Friday morning, a jury found Tamara Cotman not guilty of influencing a witness in connection with the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. 

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"I feel vindicated," Cotman said afterward.

Witnesses had described her a driven and sometimes heartless administrator-- almost fixated on improving the performance data of Atlanta schools. But the jury of eight women and four men said Tamara Cotman's conduct was not criminal.

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"It was, was there knowing intent to influence a witness?" said Ben Emerson, a juror. "It wasn't, was there cheating in the Atlanta public schools?"

"It was, did she knowingly intimidate and influence this witness? And that was something that we wanted to make sure we got right," Emerson said.

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Cotman was accused of intimidating a school principal, Jimmye Hawkins, as state investigators probed the cheating scandal. Hawkins had testified Cotman appeared to want her subordinates to stonewall investigators. For jurors, it wasn't enough.

"We could not find one clear piece of evidence that said emphatically that this happened to this individual for the reason that it did," said Greg Pollock, the jury foreman.

"I was just grateful that the jurors were able to listen to all the evidence and were able to filter the truth from things that weren't true," said Cotman after the verdict. "And my heart is very grateful."

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