ATLANTA — A judge overseeing the case against dozens of Atlanta educators accused of a conspiracy to cheat on standardized tests is expressing concerns about whether their statements to investigators were coerced by investigators.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter addressed prosecutors at a hearing this week, telling them "I am seriously concerned about your case."
The judge told prosecutors it appeared to him that defendants had been threatened with the prospect of losing their jobs if they didn't cooperate with the investigation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://bit.ly/1apFpuh).
At issue is whether prosecutors improperly relied upon tainted testimony to obtain an indictment.
In March, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 other educators were named in a 65-count indictment alleging a conspiracy to cheat in order to bolster student test scores.
If the judge finds that defendants gave compelled statements to the governor's special investigators or to Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents, prosecutors would then have to prove that they did not use the statements when preparing their case or presenting it to the grand jury.
Such a determination would require a lengthy hearing before the trial, with prosecutors having to put up evidence to show they obtained the indictment independently of any compelled statements.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com