Ellis v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
Former DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer W. Burrell Ellis, Jr. was indicted in 2013 on fifteen counts of attempted extortion and other acts of alleged corruption. He was re=indicted in early 2014 on thirteen counts relating to attempted extortion, theft, coercion, bribery and perjury. The first indictment was nolle prossed, and his first trial ended in a mistrial. Ellis was retried in 2015 on nine counts: four counts of attempt to commit theft by extortion, three counts of perjury, one count of bribery and one count of theft by extortion. The extortion charge came from Ellis' alleged attempt to procure a $2500 political campaign contribution from a DeKalb County vendor by threatening to cut the vendor's contract with the County if the Vendor did not pay. The perjury charges stemmed from Ellis allegedly lying to a Special Purpose Grand Jury about his role in cutting the contract of the same DeKalb County vendor. On appeal, Ellis contended, among other things, that his rights to substantive due process and equal protection of the laws were violated based on the inapplicability of the former version of OCGA 45-11-4 to his case, and that the trial court erred with respect to various evidentiary matters at his trial. The Supreme Court found that, although the trial court properly concluded that the inapplicability of former OCGA 45-11-4 to Ellis’ case did not result in any violation of his constitutional rights, the Court nevertheless reversed Ellis’ convictions based on certain evidentiary errors that occurred at his trial. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part to allow for a retrial on the charges of criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion and perjury.