Attorneys challenge indictments in APS cheating scandal

Attorneys challenge indictments in APS cheating scandal

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ATLANTA -

Defense attorneys spent Wednesday trying to persuade a judge to toss out the indictments in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.

The sweeping 90-page document accuses 35 educators of cheating on standardized tests.
    
Judge Jerry Baxter convened in a larger courtroom to make space for the APS educators and attorneys, who have filed almost 70 motions challenging the sweeping indictment.

Former APS Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall's lawyers took the first swing. They claimed former Governor Sonny Perdue had no authority to appoint his own investigators after expressing disappointment in the Blue Ribbon Commission report on standardized test cheating. Hall's attorneys believe only the attorney general had that power.

"What the governor can do, given these statues, is he can investigate the attorney general, the department of law, any other office under the attorney general's control, but he can't launch his own independent, wholesale investigation into any other entity whatsoever," said David Bailey, an attorney for Hall.

Then-Gov. Perdue appointed former Attorney General Michael Bowers and former District Attorney Bob Wilson in August of 2010 to find out if cheating occurred.  The state argued that Gov. Perdue correctly followed the law.

"In this unique context, it's perfectly logical for the governor to say, 'We have a problem, we got to deal with it. It's unusual. This unusual problem needs an unusual solution,'" said special prosecutor John Floyd.  "And in fact, the General Assembly anticipated that such things could happen."

The judge issued an oral ruling denying the motion and encouraged lawyers to take their same arguments to higher courts.

"I'm going to deny your motion and I'm prepared to sign something that would go to Supreme Court," said Judge Baxter.

Attorneys will be back on Monday to ask the judge to remove Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard and his entire office because of a potential conflict of interest. Howard's wife works for APS.

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