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Parenting and Policing Problems Behind the Zodiac Lounge Conviction

Andre Bonner

 

By Dave Oedel

After a carefully, professionally conducted week-long trial in Bibb County Superior Court by both prosecution and defense counsel, Andre Maurice Bonner, whose mug shot accompanies this article, was convicted on May 1, 2015 of murder and gang-related charges in the death of Jamonni Bland, 17. Bland suffered four gunshots to the back, chest and knee during the wee hours of July 5, 2013, and died on the cement floor of the underground parking deck adjacent to the Zodiac Lounge, now Icon, near the corner of Walnut and Broadway in downtown Macon.

Parking garage where Jamonni Bland was shot dead on July 5, 2013 at 3:30 a.m. in Macon, Georgia .  Entrance to the nightclub is on the right, around the corner from the "Open" sign.

Parking garage where Jamonni Bland was shot dead on July 5, 2013 at 3:30 a.m. in Macon, Georgia . Entrance to the nightclub is on the right, around the corner from the “Open” sign.

Based on normal legal standards, Bonner’s basic murder conviction should be unshakeable on appeal, and appeal on that basic conviction is therefore doubtful. Sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday, May 6, by Bibb Superior Court Judge Howard Simms.  Gang-related enhancements, more legally questionable, were also found by the jury.

It was toward the end of a long night of July 4th revelry around Macon that things began to get dicey … Continue Reading

Senator David Lucas Comments on Georgia’s 2015 Legislative Session

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Middle Georgia Senator David Lucas serves Georgia Senate District 26, including east and central portions of Bibb County as well as Twiggs, Wilkinson, Washington and Hancock Counties.  The Monitor caught up with Senator Lucas this week to debrief about the 2015 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly, which ended April 2 after its legal limit of forty days. 

Monitor: You’ve now served three years in the Senate. How would you compare your experience in the Senate as opposed to your prior experience during 36 years of service in the House?

Senator Lucas: The big change wasn’t so much about the different chambers. It’s that the Democrats were in charge when I was in the House, but the Republicans are in charge now that I’m in the Senate. That makes a big difference. I had a seat on the “Green Door” budget subcommittee in the House that gave me some influence. In the Senate as a Democrat, I have less ability to help guide the agenda, … Continue Reading

Why Georgia’s Street Gang Act May Be Unconstitutional As Applied to Macon’s “Hybrid” Street Gangs

Capture

 

By Dave Oedel

This week, sitting in the gallery during parts of the trial of Andre Maurice Bonner, 32, who was convicted Friday for the murder of 17-year-old Jamonni Bland in the parking deck outside the Zodiac Lounge in Macon near Walnut and Broadway at about 3:30 a.m. on July 5, 2013, I thought about the constitutionality of Georgia’s law on street gangs.  Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act adds stiff penalties for crimes committed in association with street gangs – sentences of three to fifteen years in addition to the penalties for the predicate crimes committed. Bonner is affiliated with Macon’s Westside Mafia, a so-called hybrid street gang, and Bonner was also convicted of several street-gang enhancements.

The possible unconstitutionality of Georgia’s anti-gang law probably won’t matter to Bonner, though, whose conviction for murder largely moots the issue for him. He’ll be imprisoned for a very long time, so any enhancements to his sentence may well be practically irrelevant. … Continue Reading

What the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision Might Mean for Georgia and Similar States with State Constitutions Banning Same-Sex Marriage

(FILES)US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts poses for the Supreme Court class photo 03 March 2006 at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court ruled 25 June, 2007 in favor of a school that suspended a student for brandishing a banner proclaiming "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," in one of the more bizarre recent free-speech cases. The high-school pupil, Joseph Frederick, had argued that the school principal had infringed his constitutional right to free speech by suspending him in January 2002 over his apparently pro-cannabis message. But in a five-three decision, the Supreme Court concluded that the school officials in this case did not violate the First Amendment by confiscating the pro-drug banner and suspending the student responsible for it," the ruling written by chief justice John Roberts said.       AFP PHOTO/Paul J. RICHARDS/FILES (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: PJR07

 

By Dave Oedel

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this past Tuesday, April 28, 2015, on two interrelated questions involving the federal constitutionality of state-based same-sex marriages bans in states like Georgia. The Court’s decision, expected by late June, is likely to have an impact on Georgia’s law and those of similarly-situated states. But what impact?

A couple of probable swing voters in the case, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, early on in the oral argument Tuesday signaled that they were doubtful about using the courts to redefine the definition of marriage itself, something that they suggested has been assumed for millennia.

But that didn’t stop the Chief from posing this hypothetical, … Continue Reading

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