U.S. Attorney Sally Yates alleges that Davis, a convicted felon, was found last September in possession of a firearm twice over a two-day span.
"On both occasions, Davis displayed the loaded firearm, acted erratically, and made threats to individuals, including police and his attorney," prosecutors said in a statement.
Last month, a federal grand jury indicted the 33-year-old rapper. Prosecutors now say that Davis, who appeared today before Magistrate Judge Linda Walker, will remain in custody until his trial.
Davis has had multiple brushes with the law. In 2009 he served six months of a one-year sentence in Fulton County Jail for violating the terms of his probation, which stemmed from a 2005 incident where he hit a promoter with a pool cue. Earlier this year, the rapper was charged with aggravated assault after he allegedly struck a soldier over the head with a champagne bottle at an Atlanta nightclub.
Each charge of possessing a firearm while a felon carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
CL reached out to Davis' lawyers. If we hear back, we'll post an update.
The 89-year-old former commander-in-chief and Georgia governor spoke this morning at the National Symposium on the Modern Death Penalty in America, a daylong event at the Carter Center that featured numerous speakers and panels about capital punishment.
"We should abolish the death penalty here and throughout the world," Carter said at the event.
The American Bar Association, which hosted the symposium with the Carter Center, wants guarantees that the death penalty is used in a fair and effective manner. According to WABE, Carter pointed out that Southern states' higher execution rates have largely failed to curb homicides. He also called Georgia's burden of proof for mental disability, which has played a crucial role in death-row inmate Warren Lee Hill's controversial case, problematic.
"The only consistency today is that the people who are executed are almost always poor, from a racial minority or mentally deficient," Carter told the Guardian. "In America today, if you have a good attorney you can avoid the death penalty; if you are white you can avoid it; if your victim was a racial minority you can avoid it. But if you are very poor or mentally deficient, or the victim is white, that's the way you get sentenced to death."
During his time as Georgia's governor, Carter helped restore Georgia's death penalty laws after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down its previous execution statutes in the case of Furman v. Georgia. He's since become a staunch opponent of capital punishment in recent years and has often cited its ineffectiveness. In its place, he wants inmates to receive alternative forms of punishment, including more life sentences.
The Georgia House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee this week will listen to a handful of death-penalty advocates, who will explain why the state needs to loosen its requirements for death-row inmates to prove mental disability and avoid execution.
Eleven years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the killing of "mentally retarded" prisoners because it violated the Eighth Amendment's ban of cruel and unusual punishment. But Georgia currently requires inmates to prove their low IQ beyond a reasonable doubt and has the highest burden of proof in the country. Capital punishment activists argue that minor changes to the state's death penalty laws could help inmates in this position avoid execution.
The case of Warren Lee Hill, a death-row inmate with an IQ of 69, has shone a spotlight on the issue over the past year. Hill received a death sentence in 1991 after bludgeoning fellow prisoner Joseph Handspike. At the time, he was already serving a life sentence for murdering Myra Wright, his 18-year-old girlfriend.
Hill has received several last-minute stays of execution throughout 2013. Several state experts, who originally said the inmate wasn't "mentally retarded," recently recanted their testimonies. Nevertheless, Hill has struggled to make a proper claim that he shouldn't be killed, in part because of the state's strict burden-of-proof requirements.
Regarding the upcoming meeting, the Associated Press' Kate Brumback writes:
A coalition of groups that advocate for people with developmental disabilities pushed for the upcoming legislative committee meeting and has been working to get Georgia's standard of proof changed to a preponderance of the evidence rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Hill's case has drawn national attention and has shone a spotlight on Georgia's tough standard, they say.
The process has taken an enormous amount of education, said Kathy Keeley, executive director of All About Developmental Disabilities. Rather than opposition to or support for the measure she's pushing, she's mostly encountered a lack of awareness about what the state's law says, she said.
The groups are hoping to not only express their views at the meeting, but also to hear from others to get a broader perspective, Keeley said. The changes should be relatively simple and very narrow in scope, targeting only the burden of proof for death penalty defendants, she said.
The meeting, scheduled to take place on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the Georgia State Capitol in Room 132, could lead to changes that help "mentally retarded" death-row inmates. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a major blow to Hill's case when they declined to hear his Eighth Amendment claim. The court's choice effectively left it up to state lawmakers to make revisions to its laws to lessen the burden of proof.
Beyond that, the Georgia Supreme Court will hear a separate Hill appeal sometime in the coming months. Last July, a Fulton County judge granted the inmate an indefinite stay after concerns that a new Georgia law, which conceals the names of the state's lethal injection drug suppliers, "unconstitutionally" limited Hill's ability to challenge his sentence.
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided against hearing Georgia death-row inmate Warren Hill's appeal.
This nation's highest court this morning left Hill's petition off the docket for its upcoming term, effectively ending a push for a challenge to the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment.
Hill, who has an IQ of 69, was sentenced to death in 1991 for murdering fellow inmate Joseph Handspike. He had already received a life sentence for murdering Myra Wright, his 18-year girlfriend. He's remained alive in recent months after a Fulton County judge granted him an indefinite stay of execution pending a separate appeal over a new Georgia law, which keeps secret the names of the state's lethal injection drug suppliers.
Many thought that a Supreme Court appeal in his favor would be Hill's best shot at staying alive. And his lawyers and anti-death penalty activists aren't pleased with the justices' decision to pass on the case. Hill attorney Brian Kammer tells the AJC:
It is the unanimous opinion of all doctors who have examined him that Mr. Hill is a person with mental retardation. However, Mr. Hill has been procedurally barred from proving his exemption from capital punishment, which is why he brought his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the hopes that the court would ensure that the evidence of his intellectual disability would be heard. It is tragic that our highest court has failed to enforce its own command that persons with mental retardation are categorically ineligible for the death penalty.
Kathryn Hamoudah, the board chair of Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty, adds in a statement:
It is outrageous that as a result of procedural barriers, Warren Hill has been unfairly prevented from having his intellectual disability considered by the courts. Georgia must change its extreme 'beyond a reasonable doubt' law to ensure that people with intellectual disability are protected from execution in our state.
Amnesty International's Brian Evans wrote in Hill's defense:
The failure of the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in this and other cases is emblematic of its broader failure to ensure fairness in the impossibly flawed U.S. death penalty. Procedural bars enacted by Congress and affirmed by the courts have made it so that even an execution that would clearly violate the Constitution somehow cannot be stopped.
In late August, Georgia Supreme Court spokeswoman Jane Hansen said that oral arguments could be heard sometime "in the next several months." Hill's indefinite stay of execution will remain in place until then.
The highest court in Georgia says Atlanta City Councilman H. Lamar Willis must stop practicing law.
The Georgia Supreme Court this morning ordered the 12-year council vet and private attorney be disbarred following ethics violations that took place in July 2011 when Willis deposited $30,000 of a client's personal injury settlement into his personal bank account.
According to the court's opinion, Willis showed "extreme disregard of his duty to safeguard the property of a client," obstructed the the court's proceedings by not responding to a formal complaint, and showed "indifference" to paying back the money he owed.
Here's the opinion (official document can be read here):
In an opinion released today, the high court has found that Willis violated a number of rules contained in the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct that govern the legal profession. Among the violations, Willis represented a client in a personal injury action who was to be paid $30,000 after the parties settled. Rather than distribute the funds to his client and according to the court order, however, Willis deposited the check into his personal or business account.
The Review Panel of the State Bar of Georgia, which recommended Willis's disbarment, found "not credible" his assertion that depression led to his failure to respond to the formal complaint against him. Willis himself "points to his continued active involvement in community affairs during this same period, which appears to have taken priority over his obligation to his client and duty to respond to disciplinary authorities," today's opinion says. "The Review Panel found no factors in mitigation of discipline, and in aggravation, found multiple offenses, obstruction of the disciplinary process by not answering the complaint, and indifference to making restitution."
"Having reviewed the record, we agree with the Review Panel that the facts in this case demonstrate Willis's extreme disregard of his duty to safeguard the property of a client, which undermines the public trust," the opinion says. "Accordingly, we hereby order that the name of Henry Lamar Willis be removed from the rolls of persons entitled to practice law in the State of Georgia."
Back in February, a court-appointed lawyer recommended that the court should decide to strip Willis of his license to practice law in Georgia. The review followed the State Bar of Georgia's claims that Willis broke rules against "dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation" and failed to respond to a formal complaint last November.
At the time, Willis told CL that while administrative parts of his legal proceeding "had fallen through the cracks" amid the "emotional tumult" of a divorce, the matter was" transparent to the client."
We've reached out to Willis for comment. If we hear back, we'll post an update.
UPDATE, 11:22 a.m.: In a prepared statement, Willis apologizes for his past actions and owns up to his violations. But he says he disagrees with the court's claim that he hasn't repaid his client and co-counsel:
Two years ago, during a time when I was facing tremendous personal challenges, I made a grievous professional error. I acknowledge it, apologize for it and I accept the repercussions of it. Although the Supreme Court's ruling comes down today, that time has passed. The defendants have been repaid contrary to the language in the Court's opinion. ... I am moving on with my life and my re-election to the Atlanta City Council.
The emphasis above comes from Willis, not CL.
UPDATE, 1:41 p.m.: Andre Dickens, who's challenging Willis for his Post 3 At-Large seat, has chimed in on his opponent's disbarment.
It is abundantly clear that Mr. Willis operates without any ethical boundaries or even the bare minimum of care or concern for other," Dickens says in a statement. "We believe the Court's decision to disbar Mr. Willis should disqualify him from holding public office. We believe that people who have been barred from practicing law in the State of Georgia for unethical behavior should not be allowed to serve in a lawmaking capacity."
Willis is expected to hold a press conference at City Hall sometime this afternoon to address the court's decision.
UPDATE, 2:30 p.m.: Mayor Kasim Reed, who's been an active supporter of Willis during his time in office, tells CL the following about the councilman's disbarment:
Lamar Willis has been a strong and capable member of the Atlanta City Council for more than a decade. It is unfortunate that he has made significant mistakes in his private law practice during a very difficult time in his personal life. While I have not reviewed the decision, I respect the ruling of the Georgia Supreme Court on this matter.
The Georgia Supreme Court yesterday announced that it will hear the state's appeal contesting a recent ruling that said a new state law, which allows the names of companies who supply lethal injection drugs to the state be concealed, could be unconstitutional.
State Attorney General Sam Olens filed a petition for immediate review last month after Hill, who was scheduled to be killed, received an indefinite stay from Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan. After Hill's lawyers raised concerns, she said the secrecy law may prevent death-row inmates, including Hill, from accessing information needed to defend their rights in court.
Hill, a death-row inmate who has an IQ of 70, was first sentenced to death in 1991 after killing his fellow inmate Joseph Handspike. He had already been serving a life sentence for murdering his then-18-year-old girlfriend, Myra Wright. During the past year, Hill has managed to avoid death on three separate occasions and has received stays of execution for several different reasons.
By the time Olens could appeal, Hill's execution warrant had expired and the court went into recess for the month of August. Now the state will get a chance to overturn the ruling.
In considering the appeal, the high court says it will look at the following questions:
-Is the case moot since the current supply of pentobarbital has expired and it is unclear how the state would obtain a new supply of execution drugs?
-Did the Fulton County Superior Court have the authority to stay Hill's execution?
-Could the whole issue of the statute's constitutionality be avoided if Hill were given a sample of the drug for testing or given other information the statute does not prohibit?
-Did Judge Tusan err by issuing the stay based on Hill's challenge of the statute's constitutionality?
Georgia Supreme Court spokeswoman Jane Hansen said in a statement that oral arguments could be held sometime "in the next several months." Until that time, Hill's indefinite stay of execution will be upheld.
In an interview with WABE, the governor touched briefly on why he's hesitant to call for changes to the state's death penalty. The remarks come as Hill, a "mentally retarded" man who faces execution for killing a fellow inmate in 1991, will endure another round of legal skirmishes next month after already receiving three separate stays of execution this year.
Deal commented briefly on two contentious points in the case for the first time since the latest round of tense legal proceedings took place. On Georgia's requirements proving inmate mental "retardation" beyond a reasonable doubt, he said:
I'd be very, very cautious for us to get into that arena because some of what we have now has not been legislatively established but judiciously established. It is an area where there's a lot of concern about, but I haven't heard anyone say we statutorily change the model that we have.
When it comes to the state's new lethal injection secrecy law, which allows for lethal injection drug suppliers to remain confidential, he called it a "difficult" matter and noted:
It's such a scrutinized issue for any pharmacy that provides any of the chemical makeups. [They] possibly could suffer other consequences by virtue of that.
Meanwhile, Hill's attorneys are gearing up for another round of courtroom battles next month. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has already filed a petition for immediate review over recent court rulings in the inmate's favor surrounding the secrecy law objections. The Georgia Supreme Court will look at those arguments next month when it returns from a month-long recess. In addition, the case may also get a look from the U.S. Supreme Court to see if Hill's Eighth Amendment arguments regarding the execution of "mentally retarded" inmates holds water.
Deal can't pardon Hill. He oversees one of the few states where a governor lacks that power, which belongs to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. But it's his lack of support, given the ability to call for such changes, that shows where he stands on the issue.
Georgia is asking a high state court to reconsider death-row inmate Warren Hill's indefinite stay of execution.
State Attorney General Sam Olens today filed a petition for immediate review with the Georgia Supreme Court one week after Hill was scheduled to be executed. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan extended his stay last week after concerns over a new state law that keeps secret the names of companies that supply the state with lethal injection drugs.
In the state's appeal, Olens contests Tusan's ruling that the secrecy law unconstitutionally limits Hill's access to the courts.
"[The law] does not bar Hill's access to the courts in any way. It does not and has not prevented Hill from challenging the lethal injection protocol, or from obtaining information on the drug's purity and its sterility," the appeal says.
We'll keep this post brief: Check out the full appeal below and read this week's column on the secrecy law for more background.
Death-row inmate Warren Hill will live to see the weekend.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens' spokeswoman Lauren Kane tells CL that the state won't appeal Hill's stay of execution until at least Monday, which means that the mentally-disabled inmate won't be executed tonight at 7 p.m. as originally scheduled by the Georgia Department of Corrections. Hill was sentenced to death in 1991 for murdering a fellow inmate. He was already serving a life sentence for previously killing his girlfriend.
"Warrant expires tomorrow," Hill's attorney Brian Kammer said in a short emailed statement. "SO this is a solid stay."
Kammer told CL earlier this morning that he was anticipating a "dicey day" in court to uphold the indefinite stay of execution that Hill received yesterday from a Fulton County judge. Until a few minutes ago, the possibility of Hill's execution at 7 p.m. remained a possibility. But the state was unable to file its appeal because the court did not send transcripts from yesterday's hearing in time. After speaking with Hill today, Kammer said his client was "relieved" about the case's recent developments.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan extended Hill's stay of execution - the third in the past year - after a contentious hearing over a new Georgia law that keeps its source of lethal injection drugs confidential. The corrections department had obtained drugs for Hill's execution from a compounding pharmacy, which called into the question the reliability and safety of how Hill would be killed.
CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has put Hill's case on its conference docket for September 30 over an Eighth Amendment challenge. He also notes that the state's lethal-injection drugs expire in early August, which means corrections officials have to secure a new supply.
"There's an impediment to executing more people, including Mr. Hill, for the rest of the summer," Kammer says.
Given that Georgia's Supreme Court will be in recess during August, Cohen says there's a good chance they might wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the case.
"I'd like to believe that the U.S. Supreme Court will do the right thing on the mental retardation issue," Kammer says. "That's a very stark and clear injustice that they have the power to remedy. That would be a just and permanent solution for Mr. Hill."
We'll pick up with the continuing Warren Hill saga on Monday.
NOTE: This story has been update to reflect additional information.
Death-row inmate Warren Hill received another stay of execution this afternoon. But his fight to stay alive is hardly over as his legal team works to uphold today's ruling by a Fulton County judge - and to postpone his death by letahl injection, which is scheduled for tomorrow night.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan sided with Warren Hill today in a hearing over a new state law that would keep the source of lethal injection drugs, including the ones that would be used to execute the death-row inmate, confidential.
Tusan ruled that the Georgia law constitutionally limited Hill's access to the court to defend his Eighth Amendment rights to not be subject to cruel and unusual punishment. Given the lack of information available to Hill and his attorneys, the judge said the inmate faced potential "irreparable harm" and needed more information to properly decide his case.
State lawmakers passed the legislation creating the statute back in March as a tacked-on amendment to House Bill 122, which primarily deals with the state's Sexual Offender Registration Review Board. Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into law in May and went into effective on July 1.
Earlier this spring, Georgia came close to running out of lethal-injection drugs. State lawmakers passed the law to protect companies that provide the state with pentobarbital needed for lethal injections from potential pressure and harassment from anti-death penalty activists.
The state Department of Corrections obtained lethal-injection drugs for Hill's execution from a compounding pharmacy - which in the past week has been a major source of contention and discrepancy regarding the compounded drug's lack of approval from the Federal Drug Administration.
During today's hearing, experts from both sides offered conflicting testimony regarding the safety and reliability of drugs mixed by the compounding pharmacies. But Tusan ultimately ruled that Hill's legal team, and the general public, needed additional access to information that was restricted by the secrecy law.
Attorney Brian Kammer, who has represented Hill for 17 years, told reporters that the state plans to appeal the court's decision and that he's expecting the case will be heard in the Georgia Supreme Court tomorrow.
"This case is about the law that protects the information about the origin of the drugs being in lethal injections and some of the participants in the lethal injection process," Kammer says. "It's not necessarily about pentobarbital, it's about where are the ingredients coming from. Who is compounding the drug? Right now, all we know is that it's from a compounding pharmacy from out of state. That does not inspire confidence."
Pending the outcome, the Georgia Supreme Court could either uphold or overturn today's ruling. If the latter happens, it may lead to Hill's stay being vacated and open the door again to his execution. The United States Supreme Court still remains a last resort, but for now he remains schedule to die tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
State lawyers, who after the ruling immediately left to file the Georgia Supreme Court appeal, were not available for comment. But you can read the judge's order after the jump:
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