Moultrie Observer

Local News

December 14, 2012

Prosecutor late; State Court cases dismissed

Keith Allen makes no excuses, says he'll refile charges

MOULTRIE — Colquitt County State Court Solicitor Keith Allen said he will refile charges in 18 cases dismissed last week when he was tardy to bench trial proceedings.

State Court Judge Richard Kent said that he dismissed the 18 cases without prejudice -- meaning that Allen has the option to refile -- after Allen had not arrived 20 minutes after the Dec. 3 court session opened.

Kent said he will sign a formal order on the dismissals in the coming days, but will not reverse his courtroom order.

“You have to decide,” he said. “That was my decision after the 20 minutes. I decided to dismiss for failure to prosecute.”

The dismissals on those grounds was the first time that Kent said he had done so in 15 years on the bench.

The 18 cases that were dismissed consisted mostly of simple battery and battery cases.

Of the cases, half were being prosecuted by the Moultrie Police Department, five by the Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office, and one each by the Doerun Police Department and Georgia State Patrol. Two cases were private prosecutions.

Allen said that he had been working on other matters at the time and that time slipped by without him realizing that it was time for court proceedings to start. He said he was not making any excuses for his tardiness.

“Bluntly, I just messed up because I was late,” he said. “It is what it is. I was late and I’m sorry.”

The dismissals will not affect the cases, he said.

“I’m refiling the cases,” Allen said. “They will be refiled, most of them will be anyway. I’m refiling the cases that warrant filing.”

Kent said he had not considered pursuing any sanctions against Allen for the incident and that he did not discuss the matter with him on the court date.

“It happens from time to time to time, even for lawyers,” he said of court participants’ being late for court proceedings. “(Judges have) options for dealing with anybody who doesn’t show up for court. My understanding is he did come afterward.”

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