Judge May Rule Next Week on McDaniel's Conflict Motion

5:42 PM, Jul 22, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Stephen McDaniel Arrives in Court

Video: Judge May Rule Next Week on McDaniel's Conflict Motion

  • Stephen McDaniel in 2011
  • Glenda and Mark McDaniel, the defendant's parents
  • Defense lawyer Floyd Buford and McDaniel

    Stephen Mcdaniel, the neighbor and law school colleague of Lauren Giddings, who was killed last month, got his second day in court Friday.

    McDaniel has been in jail since July 1 on burglary charges that took place between Christmas 2008 and January 2009. He is the former next-door neighbor of homicide victim Lauren Giddings, and named as a person of interest in her killing.

 SLIDESHOW: Stephen McDaniel Hearing


According to his attorney Floyd Buford, he allegedly entered apartments 9 and 5 of the Barister's Hall complex where he used to live without permission and "with intent to commit a theft."

     At the hearing, Buford asked Superior Court Judge Tripp Self to disqualify the Bibb County district attorney's office from trying McDaniel's case because McDaniel worked in the office as an intern from February through April this year.

    McDaniel walked into the courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit and a blank expression, even as he looked at his parents, Mark and Glenda, who sat two rows behind his attorney.

Mark McDaniel sat motionless for much of the hearing, but he nodded occasionally as Winters made his argument.

Glenda McDaniel stood up at one point during the proceedings, and in a cracking voice asked, "May I say something?" The judge replied, "No m'am you may not," and she sat quietly sobbing.  

    Buford argued that McDaniel's internship created a conflict of interest in the district attorney's office that would violate McDaniel's 6th Amendment right to due process.

He asked the judge to look for not only an actual conflict of interest, but also consider how the trial might look to the public, since District Attorney Greg Winters is an elected official.

    "Suppose Mr. McDaniel today was given a consent bond of $500 and said "You can go home right now with your momma and your daddy.'Is the public gonna say, 'Are they making that deal with him because they liked him? Because they worked with him? Because they saw him everyday for three months?'
    "On the other hand, if they say 'Nope, we're not gonna give him a consent bond,' even though a burglary is routinely bondable in Bibb County, 'because we don't want the public to think we're cutting a deal for one of our own,' " Burford said.
    Winters argued there were no grounds for his office to be removed from trying the case. He said McDaniel didn't work closely with anyone in the office, but even if he did, it wouldn't violate his rights.

    "If I give special treatment because of the fact that he was an intern in our office, Winters said, "That does not violate his 6th Amendment right. That is me nor doing my duty or our office not doing its duty and I will suffer those consequences."
    Winters also argued there is no law to support a decision from the judge based on a percieved conflict of interest.
    "We can't go and look at this and say, 'What if? What if the public thinks I'm going easy or what if the public thinks I'm going too hard? There has to be an actual conflict. It can't be speculative. It can't be theoretical," he said.

    Judge Self said he would take some time to review the case law the attorneys had presented before making a ruling. Winters said he expected it to be early next week. He said if his office was conflicted out of the case, he'd have to request a special prosecutor from a neighboring county to try the case.    

    After the hearing, Buford said McDaniel was coping though he would have liked to have been studying for the bar exam which is next week, and also spending time with his family.


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