Godbee is named in nine complaints made by female drug defendants or mothers of female drug defendants including some that resulted in sexual contacts. Godbee previously resigned after allegations of sex with victim in a case. He was then reinstated when no criminal charges were filed. I am not sure why criminal charges would be the sole determinant in whether to retain a lawyer. After being reinstated by the prosecutor’s office, new victims came forward.
Godbee was hospitalized at the time following an apparent overdose of sleeping pills but recovered and faced this charge from a special prosecutor, Russell Johnson. There should be serious review of the handling of the prior allegation and the supervision of Godbee by the District Attorney.
Despite nine complaints (and civil lawsuits), the special prosecutor grouped them into one charge. He also decided not to bring them as separate charges because he believed that defense would move to sever the charges. That is a controversial decision since, not only could a court deny such a motion due to the pattern, but it would reflect more the gravity of the conduct in both the trial and any sentencing.
Nevertheless, official misconduct is a Class E felony with a sentence range of one to six years and a fine of up to $3,000. Johnson’s logic is that it is better to put everything on one count where he can likely use the full range of alleged conduct.
This type of alleged abuse is made more likely by the trend toward higher sentencing minimums and the elimination of parole. That trend has resulted in a huge increase in power of prosecutors who can dictate whether a defendant will serve two or twenty years through charging decisions. With most prosecution offices enjoying an 80 or 90 percent conviction rate, they can force plea agreements or, as alleged here, possible extortion. Obviously, the vast majority of prosecutors are appalled by cases like this — as are all lawyers.