Trial underway for APS educators accused in cheating scandal - CBS46 News

Trial underway for APS educators accused in cheating scandal

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

In between giving potential jurors instructions and a questionnaire to take home and fill out, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter heard motions from prosecutors and some attorneys for the 12 former Atlanta Public Schools educators accused of cheating on standardized tests.

Attorney Scott Smith told Baxter he's not ready for trial.

"I'm trying to do the right thing to be honest with you, your Honor. I'm standing here before the court as an officer of the court trying to relay to the court I'm not prepared for trial," said Smith.

Smith took over the case in November after Baxter kicked Theresia Copeland's previous attorney off the due to a conflict of interest.

Smith said he needs more time to prepare, but prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said he has had ample time.

"This segment of the case, I've been able to put it together since I started Jan 6, 2014, on this case, to put this case together as well as the Dunbar case together," said Dunikoski. "In my opinion, I believe they are not going to be ineffective and they do actually have everything they need."

The judge agreed. He told Smith to do what it takes to get ready. Copeland and 11 other former APS educators are accused of racketeering. Former Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall is the alleged ring leader. Her trial is on hold until her health improves.

"I think without her here, that's going to make their proof in this case much more difficult," said Thomas.

Thomas is a defense attorney with the W.H. Thomas Firm. He is a former federal prosecutor who specialized in racketeering cases.

"It's going to be a painful long three months. This is not something Fulton County is used to," said Thomas.

Thomas said prosecutors will have a tough time trying to prove 12 educators participated in a criminal enterprise.

"These defendants are saying, 'We are not an enterprise, we didn't cheat. Beverly Hall didn't direct us to do anything inappropriate,'" said Thomas.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.