Georgia Public Defender Charged With Keeping Found Diamond Ring

12017533Georgia Public Defender, Alexia Dawn Davis, 31, has found herself facing a relatively rare charge for failing to take steps to return a diamond ring that she found in a parking lot. Davis is charged with theft of lost or mislaid property after she kept the ring for two weeks before taking it to the police in Augusta.


The ring was found outside of a Cracker Barrel in the parking lot on February 7th. The ring belonged to Jane G. Prater, 62, who reported it missing on February 12th. The ring is worth about $10,500.

When Davis found the ring, her companion went back into the restaurant and asked what she should do if she found a ring. The server suggested the manager but the woman said that she would keep the ring and call the police. No call was made.

When the ring was reported missing, the sheriff recovered security surveillance footage and released it to the public on February 19th to try to identify the finder. That same day as the release of the security footage, Davis went to the police with the ring. They then charged her with theft of lost or mislaid property — a felony for any item worth more than $1,500.

Here is the applicable standard:

16-8-6. Theft of lost or mislaid property

A person commits the offense of theft of lost or mislaid property when he comes into control of property that he knows or learns to have been lost or mislaid and appropriates the property to his own use without first taking reasonable measures to restore the property to the owner. – See more at: http://statutes.laws.com/georgia/title-16/chapter-8/article-1/16-8-6#sthash.nli8bOEe.dpuf

The question is one of intent and the meaning of “taking reasonable measures.” Here David does not appear to have taken measures for two weeks, but the law does not state a time period in which to act.

Davis now has found four lawyers to represent her. What is interesting is that the defense admits that it was the release of the video that prompted Davis to go to the police but insists that it was only at that point that she knew of the owner’s identity:

“No matter what shadow the Sheriff and the District Attorney’s office tries to cast upon Ms. Davis’ impeccable reputation and her motives, the legal fact is that she did not appropriate the ring for her own use, which is the crime this statute is intending to cover. When she learned who the owner was through the postings online from the Sheriff’s office, she promptly turned it in. She knew it was valuable but she had neither sold it nor wore the ring as if it was hers.”

Below is the full statement.

The prosecutors are likely to argue that Davis returned the ring to the police not the woman once she knew the name of the woman  — something she could have done at any time.  Indeed, her companion reportedly said the police would be notified.  Local prosecutors will now prosecute a local public defender in the case. The jury will have to determine intent. It is interesting that she is not arguing the most obvious defense that she is a busy litigator and never got around to taking the ring into police. The claim that she was waiting to “learn” the identity of the owner could break down in court if she took no steps to learn the identity but waited for it to occur spontaneously. It would be useful if she could show that she called the restaurant in the interim, but that key fact is not mentioned by her lawyers.

What do you think? Was too weeks too long to wait in your view?

Here is the statement from the defense team:

“We are issuing this statement in response to calls and information that we have received regarding the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office statement about the law on Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property and the case involving our client Ms. Alexia Davis. It is my understanding that the Sheriff’s office has indicated that the law requires a person to make reasonable efforts to find the owner of the property and they arrested Ms. Davis because they feel that she did not make reasonable efforts to find the owner, and only turned it in when they posted the information about the lost ring online.

The law states that “a person commits the offense of theft of lost or mislaid property when he comes into control of property that he knows or learns to have been lost or mislaid and appropriates the property to his own use without first taking reasonable measures to restore the property to the owner.” O.C.G.A. 16-8-6. Every word in a statute has meaning. The important part of the law that is not being discussed is that one must “appropriate the property to his own use” to commit the crime. Possession of the property is a separate element from the appropriation part, which means that mere possession of the property is not sufficient to constitute a crime when the person restores the property to the owner in its original state. Who wants an average citizen, or for example a young person, to think that if he/she finds something and leaves it in his/her locker or car for a week, and then someone posts an ad looking for the item, the person dare not turn it in to the owner because they then have to fear being arrested. That is why there is an appropriation to one’s own use requirement. The taking reasonable measures to restore it to the owner is a defense to the appropriation element, and is not necessary when the owner actually gets their property back as soon as the person becomes aware of his/her identity. No crime has occurred. The law should encourage people to come forward and do the right thing and to not feel afraid. The statute does not define what is reasonable. The statute does not require a person to turn anything into the Sheriff’s office, and it does not set a time limit.

The warrant in this case leaves out the critical fact that the ring was restored to the owner and had not been altered, changed, sold or worn. Ms. Davis was offered money for the ring but did not sell it. She wanted to know if it was real only. If she had sold the ring, like some people may have done when given the opportunity, then this would be a crime because she would have appropriated it for her own use. She talked to a Richmond County jailer about finding lost property and was told she should check the newspaper, lost and found ads, and not advertise because she would get all kinds of people calling her. What the jailer said would happen actually occurred. When Columbia County posted that the ring was lost at the Cracker Barrel, she then knew who the owner was and returned it.

Most importantly, when considering the reasonableness of a person’s effort to restore lost property to an owner, how much more reasonable can the effort be than that the person promptly turns the property in when he/she learns the identity of the owner. This law should be meant to deter crime and promote honesty, not fear of turning something in as we read the law. This is of course our interpretation of the law, and not that of the officer who took out the warrant and the associate magistrate, who is not a lawyer, who actually issued the warrant. Ms. Davis’ impeccable reputation and career are at stake in this case, and her legal team hopes that this statement helps clarify what we believe to be the law regarding finding mislaid or lost property. We are continuing to prepare this case for trial.”

Source: Chroncile

73 thoughts on “Georgia Public Defender Charged With Keeping Found Diamond Ring

  1. QUOTE “The prosecutors are likely to argue that Davis returned the ring to the police not the woman — something she could have done at any time.”

    So the ring had the owners name & address on it!?!?
    She could have been waiting for a news ad to find out who the owner was, who knows….fact remains she DID turn it back in…

  2. Is two weeks a long time for a law case? Is there some vital function that a diamond ring performs that requires an urgency faster than two weeks?
    I would be very surprised if there is not a successful defense here.

  3. Turning it in to the police would also have required a degree of confidence in police integrity that she may not have had. I expect in her work as a PD she’s come across more than one crooked cop.

    This sounds like a “no harm, no foul” situation to me, and it makes me wonder, given that she’s a PD, whether someone in the prosecutor’s office is settling a score.

  4. That prosecutor has to go. By go, I dont mean just leave the prosecutor’s office. Go outta practice of law. Pass Go. Keep going.
    Now the PD has some explaining to do to her constitutents. What was she doing in a Cracker Barrell Restaurant for Gods sake?
    {music} I’m a cracker, youre one too. gonna take good care of you….

  5. This is a BS charge…. She’s black and a public defender…. Two strikes…. Give her a felony conviction…. Three strikes and she’s out….

  6. When I was 17, I found a gold bracelet in the parking lot of a strip mall. It was 18k gold and I took it to a jeweler and sold it. The bracelet had been damaged from being in the elements and having cars run over it.

    What ever happened to “finders keepers, losers weepers.”?

    Although a diamond ring? I probably would have taken that to the police station, maybe not that day but within the week. I also would have given the manager my name and phone number and told her to give it to anyone asking about a diamond ring found in the parking lot.

    With all things considered, I think this young lady was hoping to get a ring and would never have come forward had the police not been involved.

    At what point does a found item become the property of the finder? 2 weeks doesnt seem like enough time but if no one has claimed something for 2 months? Especially if an advertisement has been put in the local media.

  7. Bron,

    I really do think this is all about race. In this instance look at the circumstances….

    Gene,

    I wasn’t counting the foul balls…. Baseball season is almost underway…. But you’re right…

  8. AY:

    I know, I was just hoping.

    Maybe someone could do a test in 4-6 months with a white person and see if they make the same big deal about it. If they dont, then the sheriff should be removed from office.

    I am sick of this kind of crap. Best way to end racism is for good people to shun these venal pri**s and call them out on it. If you lose a couple of friends over it, fuk them, they werent worth it anyway.

  9. Columbia County, Georgia must be a veritable Shangri-la if this is all the authorities have to worry about in their crime fighting efforts. I am absolutely certain her daily battles with the police and prosecutors as a public defender had absolutely nothing to do with the charging decision.

    Whatever happened to “finders keepers, ….”

  10. Not sure it is about race but I am pretty sure it is about here status as a public defender. I am sure she has made a boat load of enemies in the police establishment as well as the prosecuters office no matter what race they are.

  11. Two weeks of waiting, effectively doing nothing is too long. There was no reasonable effort at all in this situation. Reasonable would have been leaving contact info at the restaurant where the owner is likely to return to. Simply waiting that the owner is identified in the general news for all in town to see is completely unreasonable unless the ring somehow got stuck to the bottom of your shoe after walking all over town one day.

    She’s a thief and we all know it.

  12. Some States have a policy of returning item(s) to finder if not claimed within a certain period.

    What this PD did was stupid; however, it smells like police payback.

  13. Unfortunately, the US court system has been so corrupted that the burden of proof no longer lies on the prosecution, it now lies with the defense.

    It looks to me like the persecutor and biased judge want to force Ms. Davis to prove that she didn’t intend to steal the ring, not for the persecutor to prove that she did. And that will be much harder for her to do.

  14. Balanced:

    No. Let me explain to you what a thief does. A thief pockets the ring; tells no one; goes to an out-of-town jeweler and dismounts the stone; sells the setting or melts it down for sale and then puts the diamond up on some internet site to sell. That’s what a thief does.

    Now what are your thoughts on lawyers?

  15. Mespo,

    That is certainly an argument I would make in her defense to play to the popular impression of what a thief is. But of course your definition of a thief is simply a popular one, there is of course the statute which we have here to define it for us.

    She was playing the waiting game and hoping for abandonment. She knew where the ring was lost, she knew where it was found, she knew the owner of the property on which it was found, but failed to notify that property owner who would be the reasonable nexus between the two parties.

    She is a sophisticated defendant who should have known better.

    She’s a thief; we all know it. Of course that doesn’t mean she can’t be defended vigorously with arguments like yours and others.

    My thoughts on lawyers? I’m not sure what you’re asking. I love the profession and hold it in massively high esteem. Despite gobs of education, I sometimes think I never really understood anything until I went to law school.

  16. “This sounds like a “no harm, no foul” situation to me, and it makes me wonder, given that she’s a PD, whether someone in the prosecutor’s office is settling a score.”

    I agree with Mel J., AY and Gene on this. Her being a PD and Black is what this is all about. Give the snail’s pace of justice in our system two weeks is not an unreasonable waiting period.

  17. My daughter actually lost a valuable ring at a Cracker Barrel in WV. We called the Cracker Barrel from home (far away), once she realised that it was the last place she remembered having seen the ring on her finger. This was a week later. The manager had the ring, which a customer had found while trying on a pair of gloves. He sent it to us by registered mail. Thank you again, Cracker Barrel!

  18. What Riesling describes above is precisely what we all would consider reasonable conduct.

    Finding the ring at the restaurant and not notifying anyone that you were in possession of a lost ring is obvious intent to conceal. And when the friend chose not to disclose to the restaurant, but rather said they would contact police, but didn’t even after two weeks, the motive becomes even more suspicious.

    To suggest that when it is disclosed that there is surveillance video, her decision to return it negates the mens rea is absurd. She was hoping for abandonment.

  19. Gene,

    My mentioning abandonment really has nothing to do with the theft and the mens rea. I mention the concept of abandonment simply as a likely theory she was formulating to assert legal possession of the ring in the future.

    You can strike the abandonment comment and just focus on the probable mens rea given the facts and I think that her conduct reveals a guilty mind.

  20. Balanced:

    What if she or her companion deemed the manager untrustworthy? And since she is a Public Defender she has probably seen the police at less than their best. My father in law is a lawyer and he says the police lie more than his clients do.

    Given that knowledge, she might have felt the best way to return the ring was to hold onto it and wait for an ad in the local paper or to hear about it during the course of her work.

    I say give the lady the benefit of the doubt.

  21. Bron,

    You’re creating a hypothetical, but okay.

    Ms. Davis simply had to give her contact details to the manager, not the ring.

    I don’t disagree that the police can be less than trustworthy, and even vindictive, which is even more reason to at least give notice that she is in possession of a lost ring since the police (and the manager) are the most likely sources the owner of the ring would contact for help in finding it.

    Regarding an ad in the paper, why not run a “found” ad instead of waiting for a “lost” one? Why not put notice on Craig’s list? She didn’t have to pick up the ring. She assumed a burden in doing so. In consideration for making reasonable efforts to find the owner, she might ultimately gain ownership of the ring if it proves to abandoned. Most of us probably don’t want to burden our lives any more when we find a another’s property so we try to turn custody over to a reasonable party, like the restaurant manager. Or we simply do not interfere other than maybe asking nearby patrons if they have lost something.

    It is bad public policy and simply morally wrong to allow people to squirrel away things they come across that clearly do not belong to them and then put the complete burden on the owner of somehow discovering the location of and recovering the item. You create a slippery slope of larceny when you start making excuses for people to not to make reasonable efforts to find owners of property that the “finder” has chosen to take into her possession.

    Lastly, I generally like to give people the benefit of the doubt too. But in this case, given the facts as they are now, I have no doubt. Ms. Davis had no reason not to give her contact details to the restaurant. There was no reason not to immediately notify police, as she said she was going to do. There was no reason for an ATTORNEY not to act reasonably.

  22. “You can strike the abandonment comment and just focus on the probable mens rea given the facts and I think that her conduct reveals a guilty mind.”

    Or you can own it and accept that you put your foot in your mouth by your assumption of mens rea absent sufficient proof.

  23. I think it’s questionable whether she “took reasonable measures” but I’m persuaded by her lawyer’s argument that she never “appropriated” the ring. I’m not so sure she’s morally innocent, but even so, I’m hardly outraged by her conduct or think it deserves anything close to a felony charge. I’d think prosecutors and police have more important things to do than try to screw up her entire life over such a weak claim.

  24. Balanced:

    You make a good case for her wanting to keep the ring. But since she did give it up, why not just take her age into account and give her the benefit of the doubt?

    Just because you are a lawyer doesnt mean you are perfect or should have to be. Let the market sort out this type of thing.

    After hearing this story, many people would be reluctant to use her as a lawyer for any thing involving finances.

  25. Gene,

    I definitely did not put my foot in my mouth (the abandonment issue is irrelevant and apparently only confuses you). There is plenty of evidence of mens rea for all the reasons I have highlighted from the facts.

    The only time that the defendant acts reasonably is two weeks later when there is video evidence of the loss (and perhaps even her picking up the ring). It is at that point that she quickly surrenders any information that she had possession of it.

  26. balanced:

    “But of course your definition of a thief is simply a popular one, there is of course the statute which we have here to define it for us.”
    “It is bad public policy and simply morally wrong to allow people to squirrel away things they come across that clearly do not belong to them and then put the complete burden on the owner of somehow discovering the location of and recovering the item.”

    ***********************

    Well, it’s likely “popular” because it’s true. Bottom line, this is your moralistic view of criminal law (as you acknowledge) and not sound public policy as you assert. If you think the law is about Christian morality, you’d best think again.

    As Gene H says, larceny requires some criminal mens rea to steal. Finding a ring in a parking lot does not suggest anything approaching a mens rea for criminal conduct. Neither does taking it home after notifying the owner of the locus in quo. There are many scenarios which involve neither a lost item nor one the owner’s wants back . For instance: “Bob, you bastard! You’re going out with my sister. Here’s what I think of your damn engagement ring!!’ or “Grandma, I can never wear your engagement ring again now that you’re gone. It reminds me of you and that’s too painful. I want someone else to have it who might need it.” Trying to glean human intent from obscure facts is quite problematic indeed.

    We need to quit criminalizing everything somebody does that could potentially inure to their benefit and to someone else’s detriment. This is Puritan justice pure and simple. Exactly what I would expect from our Bible Belt brethren.

    By the way, what is she owed for finder’s fee and safeguarding the valuable item for 2 weeks?

  27. I’m not confused in the slightest.

    You’re the one who mentioned abandonment and it overplayed your hand.

    You are making an assumption of guilt without sufficient evidence of mens rea. You haven’t highlighted jackshit that’s relevant, only stating your opinion that the timing is an indication of guilt. Had the police discovered the ring incidental to an otherwise legal search? It would be proper to infer mens rea but even then you need to prove it in court. The bottom line is she turned over the ring voluntarily. When or why (which is pure supposition on your part unless you’re psychic) is irrelevant to that very action being indicative she had no intention of theft.

    It’s not my fault you suck at argumentation.

  28. Mespo:

    that is a bit too hypothetical. I think many women, especially those who have never read Emily Post’s advice to give the ring back if the engagement is broken, would sell the ring and use the money. Not that I would blame them if Bob was porkin their sister.

  29. Bron:

    ” I think many women, especially those who have never read Emily Post’s advice to give the ring back if the engagement is broken, would sell the ring and use the money. Not that I would blame them if Bob was porkin their sister.”

    *************

    It’s that age-old problem about whether the ring is a conditional or unconditional gift. The courts are split, but not me. If you “give” it; it’s gone.

  30. Mespo,

    The law is very very very much about morality and public policy decisions. (I don’t know about the Christian part.) But, my analysis of the facts has nothing to do with my sense of morality, I am simply applying the law that in this case says if you choose to pick up something that doesn’t belong to you, then you have to make a reasonable effort to restore it to the owner before appropriating it.

    You’re changing the facts when you say she gave notice, she never did. Simply announcing via a third party that you found a ring without identifying yourself and how to contact you is hardly notice.

    Your scenario about the engagement ring actually goes to the idea of abandonment, which is really irrelevant. The issue here is voluntarily taking possession of property that is not yours and then what you are required to do before you can simply take ownership of it.

    We don’t have to apply common law larceny because we have a statute. The statue requires reasonable measures to restore before appropriation for own use.

    And it almost seems as if the defense is conceding the lack of reasonable measures. They will focus on what constitutes appropriation for own use. I imagine this will boil down to an argument of time of possession, which will then circle back to reasonable efforts.

  31. balanced:

    “The law is very very very much about morality and public policy decisions. ”

    ******************

    Great news! I’ll alert all the inmates on death row. They’ll be fascinated and elated to know about their impending commutations of sentence.

  32. Mespo,

    Unfortunately the law is far from perfect, and of course the morality is defined by the lawmakers (essentially) which means it can and does change.

  33. balanced:

    16-8-6. Theft of lost or mislaid property

    A person commits the offense of theft of lost or mislaid property when he comes into control of property that he knows or learns to have been lost or mislaid and appropriates the property to his own use without first taking reasonable measures to restore the property to the owner.

    *****************

    A statute codifying the category of “theft” doesn’t change the requirement of mens rea. Pray tell also, how did our defendant come to actually “know or learn” that the ring had been lost or mislaid before Feb 19th? Surely no one mislays a ring in a parking lot. Losing it is one possible scenario. How will the prosecution prove it wasn’t abandoned in the parking lot as in my examples?

    You made the statement a few times, “She’s a thief and we all know it.” Do we? Let’s look at your proposed tautology.When did she become a thief? The day of the find? When she took it home? When she kept it for two weeks? When she saw the video or learned about the video? If before Feb 19th and after she made the find what changed in the interim besides time that suggests to you had a guilty mind?

    Ignoring the nature of the charge, who placed it, and who is was placed against is legal tone deafness in the extreme and a classic example of legalistic myopia caused by virulent moralizing.

    Come on now did you go to Regent University Law School? Be honest.

  34. OT:

    Another shining example of justice:

    CIA/Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou Reports to Prison Today
    on February 28, 2013

    (Washington, DC) – Today, Feb. 28, CIA/torture whistleblower John Kiriakou will report to the Federal Correctional Institute in Loretto, Pennsylvania, to begin a 30-month prison term. Kiriakou’s attorney, GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, and NSA whistleblower Tom Drake (who was also charged under the Espionage Act) will accompany Kiriakou to the facility, where he is expected to report by 12:00 p.m.

    Initially, the Obama administration charged Kiriakou with violating the Espionage Act. The Obama Justice Department has indicted six whistleblowers under the Act – more than all past administrations combined. Late last year, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. In exchange, prosecutors dropped all other charges.

    Kiriakou is the sole CIA officer to face jail time for any action involving the federal government’s torture program. Ironically, Kiriakou, the whistleblower on the program, will go to prison, while the agents who implemented it will not. (More on Kiriakou below.)

    http://www.whistleblower.org/press/press-release-archive/2013/2553-ciatorture-whistleblower-john-kiriakou-reports-to-prison-today

  35. Balanced:

    Morality, my dear fellow lawyer, is always defined by the culture (private or public) in which it exists. That’s precisely my point. it’s you and your morality on display. Not legal analysis.

  36. Lost on the 7th and reported missing on February 12th? I wonder why it took 5 days to report the loss. At any rate, the woman’s lucky to have recovered her ring.

    “This sounds like a “no harm, no foul” situation to me, and it makes me wonder, given that she’s a PD, whether someone in the prosecutor’s office is settling a score.” -Gene H

    She could have been waiting for a news ad to find out who the owner was, who knows….fact remains she DID turn it back in… -John454

    Yep and yep. What a waste of time.

  37. no finders keepers? I’m crushed. I can easily see her not wanting to hand the ring over to either the restaurant or the police, but she should have left her name and contact information with the restaurant.

    Cops and prosecutors don’t like to have defendants get off. A Black public defender? No room for benefit of the doubt here. The ring was turned in when the owner was identified. I don’t see reason for the charge.

  38. Justine Betti, Linden High School Student, Tapes Teacher Allegedly Stealing From Students’ Lockers

    Posted: 02/27/2013 12:34 pm EST | Updated: 02/27/2013 2:23 pm EST

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/27/justin-betti-teacher-locker-thief_n_2773353.html

    “I was very upset at the story of the gym teacher who allegedly stole from students backpacks from their lockers,” the reviewer wrote. “Now the real problem, the principal … instructing the students to erase the tapes.”

  39. Gene,

    You seem so hostile.

    My comments about mens rea and abandonment are simply what I believe to have been in her head. And even though those issues/elements are not necessary for this case, I think a jury would quickly grasp onto the scenario given the facts. Juries like a story that makes sense.

    You and I clearly disagree on the adequacy of the evidence, which is the nature of the legal practice, but to say the facts that I, and the prosecutor, have highlighted amount to “jackshit” seems kind of rude.

    I think she found what appeared to her to be an expensive and/or attractive piece of jewelry. She knew the right thing to do was to try and find the owner, but she also wanted the property. There was a period of deliberation that included her friend going into the restaurant to test the waters, where she was even given the obvious recommendation to speak with the manager, but Ms. Davis chooses not to (as far as she knows the owner of the ring could have already approached the manager with notice of the loss). Moreover, Ms. Davis elects not to leave her contact details, instead saying she would contact the police, which is a far less efficient and reasonable decision, but acceptable. However, Ms. Davis does not contact the police until two weeks later when there is video evidence of the loss (and one could reasonably presume the recovery).

    I think the evidence is adequate to prosecute her under the statute. Her state of mind at the time she picked up the ring is, as far as I can tell, irrelevant, although I believe I am correct that she was trying to manipulate the situation so the ring would become hers (the guilty mind).

    The voluntary surrender of misappropriated property does not abrogate the misappropriation. And I don’t see it as being evidence of reasonable measures, although it is certainly a reasonable act.

  40. Mespo,

    You’re right. When I threw out the comments “She’s a thief”, I was making a quick intuitive judgment, with a bit of my own sense of morality behind it. But that is independent from the legal analysis of the facts and statute, which I still think is sound.

  41. Balanced,

    There you inventing your own facts…. Found on the 7th, Thursday…. Turned over on the 12th a Tuesday…. Where’d those 5 days go…. Maybe your a judge or prosecutor…. Facts don’t seem to be an issue for you….

  42. AY,

    I have reread the facts above and think you may have it wrong; however if there are newer facts, please let me know. Found on 7th, reported missing by owner on 12th (not turned over), turned in by Davis on 19th.

    It seems it remains true that there was no apparent reasonable measures made by Davis from the day she chose to take possession of the ring on the 7th until 12 days later when on the 19th the police released evidence.

  43. Balanced,

    You seem so ignorant about legal standards and elements of crimes . . . and you are apparently psychic.

    “She knew the right thing to do was to try and find the owner, but she also wanted the property.”

    Really. And tell us exactly how you know what she wanted? Because she didn’t hop to it and do what you think is appropriate? There is nothing in the statute about timeliness. The bottom line is no mens rea, no crime. You have nothing but proof of tardiness.

    What can I say? Willful ignorance of the law and rushing to judgement based on a moral supposition instead of proving a requisite element of the crime in a rush to judgement makes me want to tell you haven’t proven jackshit. Neither has the prosecutor nor they are likely to in this instance as well. At least four other lawyers seem to agree her case is a win for the defendant as they chose to represent her.

    As for “hostile”? The word means “showing or feeling opposition or dislike; unfriendly”. I’ll stipulate willful ignorance and moralistic rushes to judgement contrary to legal standards makes me both oppositional and unfriendly. I’m not sure where you went to law school, but it’s my training to defend people from others trying to crucify them on insufficient evidence. Justice is the goal, not punishment to fit your moralizing based on psychic supposition. It’s my nature to be unfriendly to those who oppose justice.

    You’re free to say what you like. I’m free to criticize it how I see fit. If you don’t like it? Too bad. If any of that presents a problem for you, I suggest you re-read the 1st Amendment.

  44. Balanced, I don’t think you ever addressed the requirement to “appropriate the property to [her] own use.” I agree with you that the facts suggest that she has no intent to ever attempt to find the ring’s owner and return it to her. But, as I read the law, she must do something other than just finding and keeping the ring to be guilty of the crime cited. It seems an awfully strained interpretation of the English language to say that possession = use.

  45. Michael Val,

    You are right. The appropriation element is the tricky one. I think that simply keeping something can be adequate for appropriation of use, otherwise are we saying that you can keep someone’s property indefinitely as long as you don’t do something with it?

  46. Plausible scenario:
    “Hey, a ring. I’ll have to see if I can find out whose it is, but I’ll do it later because I’m pretty busy.”
    A few days later:
    “Oh yeah, I have to do something about that ring. Well, maybe tomorrow because I’ve got all that stuff to do today.”
    Two weeks later:
    “This looks like an interesting story on the news… Wait, that’s me! Oh, crap, it looks like I’d better return that ring today!”
    No need to attribute any bad motives at all. Just normal human procrastination. Seems to me in the absence of evidence for more sinister motives, this should be the default.

  47. It may have been a crime if she had not turned it in at the time of the news report. At that point, she had knowledge and only a person with the intent to confiscate the ring would have held onto it thereafter.

    The woman’s only active response in this matter was to take action to get the ring to the owner at the first appropriate and necessary moment in the scenario. The only true evidence, or let’s say determinative evidence, is her action to turn it in — there is nothing else in the case that so critically indicates the woman’s intent. I agree that prior to that point she was not guilty of anything because she did nothing to demonstrate an intention to convert it to her own use.

    I think it would be a travesty to label a young woman who has a promising future with a bogus felony conviction under these innocuous circumstances.

  48. Eric Sotnak:

    you are a genius, that is exactly how it would go with me. Although I would have given the manager my name and phone number but then I am a male over 40.

  49. What Gene and Mespo have said more than once. No mens rea to steal the ring. By the way, why did it take the owner 5 days to realize a valuable ring was missing?

  50. “otherwise are we saying that you can keep someone’s property indefinitely as long as you don’t do something with it?”

    Maybe there’s some other law that applies, but per the plain language of statute, it’s not a violation of “16-8-6, Theft of lost or mislaid property.”

    “I think that simply keeping something can be adequate for appropriation of use, ”

    Not only do I think that’s not a natural reading of the statute’s language, but your interpretation also makes the “appropriate the property to [her] own use” requirement surplusage, considering that possession is already required by the requirement that the alleged perp “comes into control of property.” A basic canon of statutory construction is that the legislature intends all words in the statute to have meaning.

    Finally, your interpretation that possession is sufficient presents a real problem of either leading to absurd results or requires an extra-statutory judicial gloss. By this, if possession equals appropriation for one’s own use, how long must one have possession to trigger criminal liability? If mere possession is enough, then the second she picked up the ring in the parking lot, she was guilty of theft under your reading of the statute. Of course, that’s absurd. So, to remedy that problem, you’ll need the judiciary to read some sort of time requirement into the statute, something like you can possess it for a “reasonable amount of time” without taking measures to find the owner before liability arises. But, that’s problematic because (1) we should avoid whenever possible statutory interpretations that require the judiciary to invent extra language to save the statute from absurdity and (2) our new, judicially improved statute is still unnecessarily vague, which should be particularly avoided with felony criminal provisions.

  51. “When I threw out the comments “She’s a thief”, I was making a quick intuitive judgment, with a bit of my own sense of morality behind it.”

    Balanced,

    There you have it. I can’t speak for anyone else but when you did that it annoyed me. My comment: “I would suppose the “balanced” viewpoint would be prison time as well.” was ironic criticism which you responded to with the equally inane:

    “I don’t think prison would be appropriate for this defendant. Disbarment.”

    Disbarment is as bad a moral judgment as “she’s a thief”. Just based on the facts of this situation, the police/prosecutorial action is highly suspicious, given that she is a public defender. That you are willing to both label her a criminal and finish her career based on the facts of this case says more negatively about your draconian morality, than about hers.

    Eric S’s comment:

    “Plausible scenario:
    “Hey, a ring. I’ll have to see if I can find out whose it is, but I’ll do it later because I’m pretty busy.”
    A few days later:
    “Oh yeah, I have to do something about that ring. Well, maybe tomorrow because I’ve got all that stuff to do today.”
    Two weeks later:
    “This looks like an interesting story on the news… Wait, that’s me! Oh, crap, it looks like I’d better return that ring today!”
    No need to attribute any bad motives at all. Just normal human procrastination. Seems to me in the absence of evidence for more sinister motives, this should be the default.”

    Bears repeating because this is a totally reasonable scenario, not only based on the facts, but also on human nature. Also the concept of “mens rea” asserted by Gene, Rafflaw, AY and Mespo should control. If she had tried to sell the ring then one could assume a guilty mind. That she had it appraised does not indicate “mens rea”, but merely an attempt to discover whether she should make more than reasonable efforts in returning the ring. The ring could have looked like a diamond but been completely worthless glass. There are plenty of other scenarios that could also be asserted before thinking she’s guilty.

  52. Yet another tale about life’s idiots and stupid people. Where would we be without them.

    Idiot 1. Guy who wastes 10K on a ring.

    Idiot 2. Wife who wears a 10k ring and is so stupid she loses it.

    Idiot 3. Sheriff who decides to take the case of lost and found “theft” to the prosecutor.

    Idiot 4. Prosecutor who decides to waste everyone’s time, money and scarce court resources by prosecuting a lost and found case.

    Idiot 5. Trained lawyer and PD, Alexia Davis who did not immediately hand the ring into the local police with a written record of the lodgement. Duh – she is a lawyer and is supposed to know the law. In this case all she had to do was look up a statute. But then she does not look like the brightest candle on the cake and her actions suggest she certainly is not.

    Enough said – until Jonathan”s next stupid tale of America’s stupid people.

  53. nick:

    I dont think this is white guilt. That PD is a few years older than my daughter, I would not want her going to jail or having a record for something like this. Although I would give her a stern talking to.

  54. “White guilt unchained.”

    Nick,

    In your case ignorance and disingenuousness unchained.

    It is ignorant from you because it is a meme you repeat time and again when people bring racism into the discussion. Understand, ignorance as opposed to stupidity. Stupidity, which you don’t suffer from, is the inability to understand concepts and a lack of the kind of general information available to the average person. Ignorance, however, is the inability to process information that falls outside of previous beliefs, or in other words the lack of an open mind. This “white guilt” thing isn’t prejudice on your part since you avowedly are tight with people of color.

    What it is though is you letting your political philosophy, libertarian I presume, get in the way of evidence. From a libertarian point of view we can all equally succeed based on our own merits if we try hard enough. That some don’t clearly succeed is thus their responsibility, not the fault of society. Since your whole outlook on the world is imbued with this view, then of course being Black has nothing to do with this woman’s situation. That is ignorant and a putative refutation with no evidence behind it.

    Notice though that I also said you were being disingenuous. Inherent in your statement, as gleaned from all the comments I’ve seen from you here on politics, is your stereotyping of those you see as “Liberals”. I won’t even go into the incorrectness of your classification of may people here in that simplistic manner, because frankly your commentary has never been one that brings facts to bear, so the effort isn’t worth it. However, it doesn’t escape anyone that you consider this a “jab” at those you classify this way. The “jab”, however, is not a direct one, though in your case it seems heartfelt. It is a disingenuous one done with the belief that it doesn’t leave you open to return fire since you could always claim misunderstanding of your words.

    You present yourself here as a open and tolerant soul, but I think you essentially are a very angry man, without the honesty, or the skills to present your anger towards those you consider “liberals” cohesively and directly.

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