I am BEYOND thrilled to share with you that after years of litigation and a 3-day hearing in February/March, Walker County Superior Court Judge Don Thompson GRANTED Joey Watkins’ Habeas Corpus Petition!
The order, which you can read below, does a great job outlining the case for Joey’s innocence and holding the government accountable for getting it wrong and violating Joey’s rights in the process.
This is a HUGE win for Joey, his family, and for justice and accountability in Georgia! As most of you know, we have been fighting this case for many years in the very tough jurisdiction of Rome/Floyd County Georgia.
This wonderful result never would have been possible without the tireless efforts of the GIP legal team, our fantastic co-counsel Ben Goldberg, investigative journalists at the Undisclosed podcast, and countless others like you who believed in Joey and supported our work over the years. THANK YOU!
For those unfamiliar, a habeas corpus petition is a civil lawsuit filed against the warden of the prison incarcerating the petitioner (Joey Watkins). The lawsuit essentially alleges the warden has no legal authority to hold the person in prison because the underlying conviction is unlawful due to constitutional rights violations. We argued that Joey’s conviction is unconstitutional because of juror misconduct and prosecutorial misconduct (hiding favorable evidence and presenting false or misleading testimony). Judge Thompson agreed.
However, we have more work ahead and this does NOT mean Joey’s case is over or that Joey is free.
The State (Georgia’s Attorney General) has 30 days to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. If they appeal, it likely will take many months. We are exploring options to get Joey released from custody while his case is still pending.
If the Attorney General does not appeal, then Joey’s conviction is officially overturned. However, the original charges will still remain, meaning that Joey would still be facing murder charges. It will be up to the local district attorney to decide whether to dismiss the charges (exonerating Joey), negotiate a plea deal, or take the case to trial again.
Despite probable challenges ahead, this is a HUGE step toward Justice for Joey.
We’ll keep you posted on future updates, but until then, you can learn more on our website, in this Rome News Tribune story, or – if you want to immerse yourself in the extensive and gritty details of a tragic death followed by a tragic wrongful conviction in northwest Georgia – check out Season 2 of the Undisclosed Podcast.
Read the full order below: