Appeals court overturns Judge Crawford’s dismissal of drug case

The Georgia Court of Appeals has overturned the dismissal of a case in Fayette County Superior Court involving a defendant accused of selling a counterfeit substance.

A panel of jurists determined that Superior Court Judge Robert “Mack” Crawford should not have dismissed the case for lack of prosecution because the district attorney’s office failed to present a witness during a pre-trial motion hearing.

The appeals court noted that the state had a different witness to present in the hearing who could speak to the question at hand: whether prosecutors must reveal the identity of a confidential informant used in the case. Crawford did not hear from the state’s witness, however, and incorrectly dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning that defendant Vincenzo Thomas Fiorenzo could not be tried again for the same crime.

The court in its brief noted that jeopardy is only attached once a jury has been empaneled to hear the case. Since this case was only in the pre-trial stage and no jury had yet been selected, no jeopardy was attached, the court ruled.

The case has been remanded back to Superior Court for disposition, and the appeals court indicated that the remedy may be for the judge to order the confidential information’s identity to be revealed so the defendant can call him or her as a witness during trial.