Judge in APS trial threatens to fine defendants for being late - CBS46 News

Judge in APS trial threatens to fine defendants for being late

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Judge Jerry Baxter Judge Jerry Baxter
Late arrival for APS cheating trial Late arrival for APS cheating trial
Margaret Merkerson said she helped cheat in 2008 Margaret Merkerson said she helped cheat in 2008
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

The judge in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial threatened to fine defendants for showing up late to court on Monday morning.

"I'm not going to put up with it. I have 22 jurors who come from all over and they are here every morning. They are here ahead of time," said Judge Jerry Baxter.

Dessa Curb, who was a special education teacher at Dobbs Elementary, was one of the late arrivals. When she arrived, she told Judge Baxter that she was involved in an accident.

"Ms. Curb is a nice lady, but she needs to be here on time," said Judge Baxter.

"I'm going to start fining people. This is the last, if you come in late, I don't care what the excuse is you're going be fined from here on out. I said that to start with to try to scare people. I think it's really going to scare people when I start doing it. I'm going to start doing it from here on out," the judge continued.

Once everyone actually showed up, prosecutors continued their focus on Deerwood Academy, where a substitute teacher told jurors that one of the accused asked her to cheat.

The substitute, Margaret Merkerson, said that she was asked by a friend at Deerwood in the summer of 2008 to help cheat.

"Kind of surprised and knew it was wrong, but I went on and assisted," said Merkerson.

Defendant Tabeeka Jordan was the assistant principal, and defendant Sharon Williams was the executive director at the school.

Merkerson told jurors, following Jordan's instructions, that she and the other teacher cheated on the math portion of the CRCT for Deerwood's fifth-grade students.

The APS cheating trial involves 12 former Atlanta Public Schools educators, accused of racketeering in one of the nation's most notorious cheating scandals.

A total of 35 educators were indicted, but 21 agreed to plea deals, while another educator died.

Former APS superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall was also accused, but will not stand trial due to her health. She is battling Stage IV breast cancer, according to her doctors.

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