Maurice Jimmerson Was Locked Up for 10 Years Without a Trial. He’s Finally Free.

March 21, 2024   |   Tags:
Maurice Jimmerson hugs someone | Atlanta News First

Maurice Jimmerson, a Georgia man who languished in jail awaiting trial for more than a decade, has finally been released. Jimmerson has been in jail since 2013 after a series of bureaucratic hurdles prevented him from receiving a speedy trial.

Jimmerson was one of five people arrested by Albany, Georgia, police on suspicion of committing a double murder in 2013. Two of Jimmerson's co-defendants were tried and acquitted in 2017, but Jimmerson himself remained behind bars.

It's not entirely clear why Jimmerson spent so much time in jail. Last year, Gregory Edwards, the Dougherty County district attorney, told Atlanta News First that the delay was attributable to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 2021 courthouse flood, and a previous judge's decision to try Jimmerson and his co-defendants separately. 

Making the situation worse, Jimmerson was left without a lawyer to represent him for over eight months after his public defender requested to be released from Jimmerson's case so he could travel frequently to seek medical care for his infant daughter. 

Jimmerson finally got a new lawyer last June after criminal defense attorney Andrew Fleischman saw local news coverage of Jimmerson's case and decided to step in pro bono. Jimmerson finally got a trial in July 2023, but it ended in a hung jury.

"You talk about getting hostages out of other countries like North Korea or Iran," Fleischman told Reason in June. "And the average time is six years. We talk about those countries having failed puppet justice systems with no expectation of due process. And yet we have Americans in this country waiting 10 years for an opportunity to force the state to prove its case. And that to me is outrageous."

With a new team of lawyers, Jimmerson negotiated his release as part of a plea deal. While Jimmerson still maintains his innocence, he pled guilty to aggravated assault and possession of a firearm—and was sentenced to 30 years probation, with 11 years time served. He was released Wednesday afternoon.

According to Atlanta News First, Jimmerson's pretrial detention is likely among the longest in United States history.

"We should not punish people before they have been convicted of a crime," said Fleischman. "The process of indicting somebody is just telling 16 to 22 strangers a story for which there is no rebuttal….And to hold somebody for 10 years on just that story—it's a violation of due process."

The post Maurice Jimmerson Was Locked Up for 10 Years Without a Trial. He's Finally Free. appeared first on Reason.com.


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