Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7
Thirty Georgia State Patrol troopers have been fired following an investigation into cheating on an online test. (Source: WRDW)
GROVETOWN, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Could more than 1,700 traffic tickets be thrown out? They were written by three local troopers who were fired last week in the Georgia State Patrol cheating scandal.
State troopers Patrick Pollett, Richard Justice, and Clarence Johnson were assigned to post 25 in Grovetown. All three were fired for cheating on a speed gun test.
Those three, along with 30 others, were from the now-disgraced 106th trooper school. The class graduated in August and wrote hundreds of traffic citations before losing their jobs this January.
"I believe it unprecedented that entire class would be fired,” criminal defense attorney Keith Johnson said. “I don't think it's ever happened before."
Johnson says drivers ticketed by any the officers fired may have grounds to fight their citations.
"Drivers can have recourse against those state troopers with regards to the citations that were written,” Johnson said. “It would really come down to whether the individual citation was written with facts that could be proven in court. The fact that the officers were recently fired could be used in court to discredit their testimony and that they may not be worthy of truthfulness."
Our I-Team requested a breakdown of all the tickets written by the Grovetown troopers.
Together the three wrote 1,708 tickets. The majority of the citations were for seat belt and child restraint violations -- 519 to be exact. Speeding tickets made up less than two dozen.
Johnson says drivers would have the best fight against speeding tickets, but others could be thrown out too.
"If it was a radar test, then it could have implications for both types of cases,” Johnson said. “It would depend on each type of case, but for example if the DUI violation began with a speeding violation that then turned into a DUI arrest once the officer encountered the individual, it could have an impact on the speeding as well."
DUI's made up more than 13 percent of the citations written by the three officers. Justice wrote 172 DUI citations, which is nearly three times the amount of the other two officers combined.
"We have several state troopers in the area, but it does erode public confidence, and that's very unfortunate,” Johnson said.
So what do you do if you got a ticket written by one of the fired troopers? Hire an attorney. Loop them in on the officer's past. If you already paid a ticket, you could request to have it reopened. Keep in mind though, hiring an attorney for a speeding ticket may be more expensive than the fine.
We did ask Georgia State Patrol whether they are considering dropping any of the tickets. A spokesperson told us it's always a possibility, but is at the discretion of the court.
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