Governor Perdue Signs Criminal Justice Act of 2005
|Tuesday, April 5, 2005||
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Legislation Reforms Georgia’s Criminal Law, Strengthens Integrity of the Judicial Process
ATLANTA, GA - Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation today that reforms Georgia’s criminal law to strengthen the integrity of the judicial process and remove obstacles that prevent fairness and justice for all. In a ceremony in the North Wing of the Capitol, Governor Perdue was joined by State Senator Bill Hamrick, State Representative Rich Golick, President of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council Pete Skandalakis, President of the District Attorneys’ Association Denise Fachini, David McDade, district attorney for Douglas County, and a number of prosecuting attorneys from across the state.
“The Criminal Justice Act of 2005 revises provisions in Georgia’s criminal law that restore balance in the prosecution of criminal cases,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “With these changes to our criminal procedures, prosecutors will be better able to remove dangerous criminals from the streets and uphold the rights of crime victims, leading to a safer Georgia.”
The Criminal Justice Act of 2005 (HB170) reforms Georgia’s criminal law with the following provisions:
- Provides an equal number of jury strikes for both the defense and prosecution. The current system of unequal strikes gives more rights to the defendant than to the victim.
- Allows for the impeachment of a defendant who testifies in a criminal case, in line with standards of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Forty-eight states allow impeachment of all witnesses including a defendant who testifies. Kansas and Georgia are the only states that only allow impeachment of a defendant if he or she first places character at issue.
- Requires reciprocal discovery during the sentencing phase. Georgia currently only has reciprocal discovery during the trial phase. Reciprocal discovery maximizes the presentation of reliable evidence and fosters fairness and efficiency in criminal proceedings.
- Places Georgia in line with the majority of states by providing that the state, the party with the burden of proof, has the right to conclude closing statements at trial.
- Gives the state the right to appellate review of a motion to recuse a judge or motion for a new trial, a right that defendants have under current law.
- Extends Georgia’s rape shield law to victims of other sexually violent crimes.
These new provisions will apply to all trials beginning on or after July 1, 2005.