Today is the day 10 of the 11 convicted former educators receive their sentences from Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter.
Judge Baxter, who is white, ordered the 10 black teachers jailed immediately after a jury convicted them of violating the RICO statute on April 1. RICO charges are usually reserved for organized crime mob figures.
WSB TV has provided live feed of the sentencing hearing from the Fulton County Courthouse.
Judge Baxter groused that he was forced to sit through 6 months of the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial -- and that the teachers must sit in jail until their sentencing hearing, which is today.
"When you lose your job and license that itself is a sentence for life," said Pastor Harris T. Travis, speaking on behalf of Sharon Davis Williams. "I have worked with criminals… Sharon Davis Williams is not a criminal," he said. Judge Baxter was not impressed with any of the statements. He seemed to stifle a yawn when Sharon Davis Williams's daughter, Melody Bradley, took the stand to speak on behalf of her mother.
The only time the judge's exterior exterior seemed to show cracks was when convicted former principal of Dobbs Elementary, Dana Evans (pictured above), stood up to speak. The judge acknowledged that his own son was a former student under Ms. Evans. He told Ms. Evans that his son went to her for counseling. "I'm sorry. I apologize… you were under pressure," Baxter said to her.
"I'm not giving these folks 20 years," Judge Baxter said in a tense discussion with a defense lawyer.
Defense lawyers have asked the judge to give the convicted teachers probation.