Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Attorneys for Victor Hill (l-r) Steve Frey, Drew Findling and Musa Ghanayem announce the filing of an appeal in the case already delayed by a state's appeal.
ATLANTA — Attorneys for Clayton County sheriff-elect Victor Hill filed an appeal Wednesday in opposition to the prosecution's objection to the trial judge's dismissal of five felonies in the state's case against him.
The day after Hill won a hard-fought battle to reclaim the office of sheriff he lost in 2008 after one term, his four attorneys got permission from Judge Albert Collier to appeal his decision to allow the state's appeal.
The attorneys, Steve Frey, Drew Findling, Musa Ghanayem and Marissa Goldberg, held a press conference Wednesday to announce the filing.
Hill, 47, was indicted in January on 37 felony counts related to his term in office involving allegations of theft and influencing a witness. When Collier dropped five counts alleging misuse of Hill's campaign funds, special prosecutor Layla Zon of Alcovy Circuit filed an appeal with the state Court of Appeals.
The appeal stopped the Nov. 26 trial indefinitely. Findling said the delay is not fair to Hill, especially given the voters' overwhelming support of him. Unofficial results show Hill got 63,904 votes to Garland Watkins' 16,769, with 59 of 60 precincts counted.
"It's time to take this from the ballot box to the jury box," he said, reading from a prepared statement that he declined to disseminate to reporters who attended the press conference.
Findling also explained Hill's reluctance to give media interviews throughout his campaign.
"This is a Clayton County issue," he said. "He went all over Clayton County to speak to and answer questions of the Clayton County electorate. He's been at churches, picnics and funerals."
Frey said it could take up to 55 days for the defense appeal to be decided by the higher court.
Hill, whose law enforcement certification was suspended by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Council when he was indicted, is due to be sworn into office Jan. 1. Under Georgia law, he has six months to get valid certification or he is ineligible to hold office.
He will be the first sheriff-elect in Clayton County's history under felony indictment to be sworn into office.