NEWS & PRESS
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Excellent follow-up !
She took care of my issue quickly and without much expense. She had the best follow-up and really cares about the final outcome. My entire experience was great with the Jones law firm.
Not enough great things to say ! Awesome !
Why can’t all attorneys be like Bonnie Jones??? She is amazing, Honest and fearless. You go, girl!
Great local law firm!
Thank you, Mrs. Jones!
I came to see Mrs. Jones about a problem my husband was having with his ex about his kids. First off all the other lawyers I called said no one could meet me for two weeks, Mrs. Jones saw me in two days. She is honest and smart. She didn’t waste time or talk about how great she was, she just took care of business. The fee was fair and i like how she took time to explain to us what was happening . I like her a lot and think she did a really good job.
By far the best lawyer i have ever worked with. Bonnie handled my son’s criminal case some time ago, and my divorce recently with GRAND results. I actually went through several other local lawyers and ended up in the best place. THANK YOU!!!
THE best….that’s all I can say!
Jones Law saved my brother from a lifetime of persecution – Most lawyers do not think past the fees. Thank you! From the bottom of my heart!
BONNIE JONES IS A GREAT HONEST ATTORNEY
Bonnie Jones is a great attorney. I was surprised by the care and honest way she handled our case. We were not just a case number to her, we were actual people with everyday situations. Thanks Bonnie for all your help. Keep up the good work!
DAWSON NEWS & ADVERTISER
Wallace cleared in GBI investigation
By CHARLES DUNCAN
A personal nightmare is over for former Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Scott Wallace.
A criminal investigation of Wallace by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has ended with a decision not to move forward with prosecution. That decision was made by the District Attorney’s Office of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit. Wallace was accused of unspecified criminal charges, according to an investigative summary by the GBI.
“It was a big load off my shoulders,” Wallace said. “GBI was great, they worked with me to get to this point. This is a small town and I was being prevented from getting jobs because of all the rumor mills.
“They helped me get the document that cleared this up,” he said.
Wallace felt absolved, but the news was bittersweet. It was followed by news that his father was diagnosed with lung cancer.
“I’m now learning to deal with that,” he said. “God lifted that investigation off of me, it’s closed. I’ve closed that chapter and now I can move forward and focus on being with my father and my family and doing the things that I need to do.”
The investigation took a personal and professional toll on Wallace – it cost him his public safety career in Dawson County.
“Looking back, I honestly just don’t know how I made it,” he said. “I’ve dealt with so much depression, anxiety, personal worries . . . It took a toll on my family,” he said. “I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring going through all of this. It’s been one of the hardest times I’ve ever had in my life.”
Wallace used the time away from his chosen profession to get better acquainted with God, his family and himself.
“I have got some good things out of this,” he said. “I’ve identified the things that are really important to me – my relationship with God, my relationship with my wife and children.
“During the beginning of my administrative leave, it became apparent real quick that I had put that job in front of everything else,” he said. “Also, that job was a big part of me for 23 years. I dedicated my life to this county. It became my identity.
“When I left the county, I lost my identity,” he said. “I suffered serious depression for quite a while trying to figure out who I really am, where I’m at and where I’m going.”
The investigation began in August and Wallace was immediately placed on administrative leave. Six weeks into the probe, still on paid administrative leave, Wallace said he was given an ultimatum by Dawson County government – resign or be fired. If he chose the latter, the county would continue a private investigation of its own into Wallace’s affairs. If he resigned, the investigation ceased.
“They said that was a very important position and that they needed to fill that post,” he said.
A copy of a severance agreement offered to Wallace by Dawson County government asked him to “release any and all claims, demands whether known or unknown against the county, or any of its present or former elected officials, employees, directors . . . “
Basically, signing the agreement would have waived any future claims Wallace might have had against the county.
It was an agreement that he didn’t sign.
“I was given one of two choices, resign and get the comp time I was owed by the county, or wait and get fired two days later and walk away with nothing,” Wallace said.
Wallace retained legal counsel to work out an agreement whereby he could tender his own personal letter of resignation. The county agreed, Wallace said and he was given almost $13,000 accrued for about 300 hours of comp time.
Now that the ordeal is over, he has retained local attorney Bonnie Lowe Jones to review any legal options that he might have.
The most difficult time for Wallace during the ordeal was spent wondering who his real friends were in this world. He breaks down and cries when he talks about his friends in public safety.
“I had people coming to my house and it didn’t matter what rumors were out there, they were my friends,” he said. “You people who are out there, you know who you are and I thank God for you.”
It also was hard for Wallace that he didn’t get to say good-bye to his extended family in Emergency Services.
“I wasn’t supposed to talk with anyone,” he said. “My co-workers weren’t allowed to make contact with me. It was really hard; I didn’t get to say good-bye to the people who have been a part of my family for most of my adult life.
“For the people who supported me, it meant a lot to me and I’ll never, ever forget any one of you,” he said.
DAWSON NEWS & ADVERTISER
Wimpey trial could begin Friday
By CHARLES DUNCAN
The legal fate of a former Dawsonville City Councilman soon will be in the hands of a 12-person Dawson County jury.
Northeastern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller presided over the selection of the jury on Monday that will decide Wimpey’s fate stemming from the alleged October sale of his personal prescription medication.
Circuit prosecutors and Wimpey’s Dawsonville defense attorney Bonnie Lowe Jones spent Monday afternoon completing the voir dire questioning process of prospective jurors. In the end, the prosecution and defense selected an eight-man, four-woman jury with three alternates from a pool of 50 prospective jurors.
The trial is expected to begin later this week upon the conclusion of the Hiram Dillard Abernathy kidnapping trial. Prosecutor John Wilbanks said no timetable has been set for the Abernathy trial. He believes the trial will last three days or more because of the amount of evidence to be presented during the hearing.
The embattled former councilman will be waiting in the wings for the conclusion of that court proceeding.
Dawson County narcotics agents arrested Wimpey on Oct. 27 following an alleged sale of prescription morphine by the former councilman to a police informant.
Wimpey is prescribed morphine to help him control pain levels due to his medical condition that includes cerebral palsy, Jones said.
During the trial, jurors will hear a recorded telephone conversation that led to the sting and Wimpey’s ultimate arrest.
However, Wimpey’s defense will argue that there is more than meets the eye, or the ear in regards to the alleged deal that led to Wimpey’s arrest.
According to a deposition by 35-year-old Guy Kuhnhausen, who was in the vehicle when Wimpey was arrested, the informant prompted Wimpey to do something that he ordinarily wouldn’t do. Kuhnhausen alleged that Rodney Downs, the police informant, had threatened physical harm to Wimpey and his 4-year-old daughter if the former councilman failed to sell the prescription morphine to him, according to records filed in Dawson County Superior Court.
Downs’ identity as the police informant in the case was disclosed during pre-trial motions last week in open court.
Meanwhile, Kuhnhausen has reached a plea bargain for his part in the case. He was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of a drug-related object and held on a felony probation warrant.
He was sentenced to five years with one year to serve in state prison. Despite the plea, Kuhnhausen didn’t back off of his deposition statement.
“Rodney threatened to burn Tim’s house down if he didn’t agree,” Kuhnhausen wrote in his deposition.
According to Dawson County arrest warrants, Kuhnhausen had a syringe stuck in his arm when investigators made the arrests during the 40th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival.
Ultimately, Jones said she has a strong feeling that justice will prevail in the end.
“We feel very strongly that justice will be served at the end of the day,” Jones said. “We also feel like we’ve managed to select a very fair and impartial jury. At the end of the day, all of the facts will come to light.”
DAWSON NEWS & ADVERTISER
Wimpey free on $20,000 bail
By CHARLES DUNCAN
Northeastern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Jason Deal set Dawsonville City Council candidate Tim Wimpey’s bail at $20,000 on Thursday.
Deal granted bail for Wimpey despite objections by assistant District Attorney J.D. Hart.
“It doesn’t sound like Mr. Wimpey is a risk to flee jurisdiction,” Judge Deal said. “The witnesses in this case are sheriff’s investigators. He’s not a risk to intimidate witnesses. He’s no risk based on his prior history and he has no prior history of selling drugs.
“Bail is set at $20,000 with conditions,” he said.
Those conditions include supervision by Pretrial Release, waiver of his 4th Amendment rights regarding search and seizures and Wimpey must abide by a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily curfew.
Wimpey was released Thursday afternoon after posting the required bail.
During the bond hearing, Wimpey, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, sat quietly and stared intently at Judge Deal, hanging on his every word. He let his lawyer, Dawsonville attorney Bonnie Jones do the talking.
Jones told Deal that there had been a lack of communication from the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and the circuit’s district attorney’s office.
She said that she was forced to file an open records request to obtain a copy of the arrest warrant and pre-booking information.
Jones said that she had battled since Sunday to get Wimpey his medications for Cerebral palsy. She added that her client had not been given permission to shower or brush his teeth until Tuesday because of the lack of care packages at the jail.
“He has no prior arrest history,” she said. “He went three days without his medication and four days without permission to shower or brush his teeth.
“Mr. Wimpey is not violent, he has no criminal history, he’s a former councilman and a candidate for city council,” she said.
Hart told Deal that the district attorney’s office has no control whatsoever over the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office. She added that she had not had a chance to look at the arrest warrant.
The frenzy over Wimpey happened Saturday during the 40th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival.
Word spread quickly about his felony arrest on Maple Street for allegedly selling a Schedule II controlled substance – morphine sulphate – to an unnamed individual prior to his arrest by sheriff’s investigators.
Sheriff Billy Carlisle said the investigation began five or six weeks ago when investigators allegedly picked up word on the street that the former councilman was dealing prescription medication.
Dawson County arrest warrants show Wimpey was charged with one count of sale of a controlled substance. Allegedly, Wimpey made an $1,100 sale of “57 morphine sulphate” pills to an unnamed participant in the transaction, according to the arrest warrant.
Guy Lee Kuhnhausen, 35, of Dawsonville, also was arrested.
Kuhnhausen is being held in the Dawson County Detention Center charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of a drug-related object. His bail is set at $1,000. The department also has a felony probation hold on Kuhnhausen, the sheriff said.
Chief Magistrate Judge Johnny Holtzclaw held a first court appearance for Wimpey Monday morning. By statute, Holtzclaw was unable to set bail because of the felony drug sale charge.
Wimpey suffers from Cerebral palsy a non-progressive, non-contagious disease, which permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination.
Jones said her client “is and has been” under the care of a licensed physician for some time regarding his medical condition. In addition to other medications, Wimpey has been prescribed morphine to help him control his pain levels, Jones said.
“Because this investigation is ongoing, Mr. Wimpey is reluctant to go into greater detail at this time; however, he hopes to make more information about the circumstances surrounding his arrest known in the near future,” she said. “Suffice it to say in the interim, however, that the situation has been taken out of its proper context.”
In the meantime, Wimpey has instructed Jones to make it known that he will not withdraw his name as a candidate for the Dawsonville City Council.
“His name will remain on the ballot,” she said. “Mr. Wimpey is a former Dawsonville City Council member and a respected citizen of the local community. He also happens to be one of five candidates running for the two currently vacant city council seats. “This election is scheduled to take place in less than ten days, on Nov. 6.
“Mr. Wimpey and his family also wish to extend their thanks and appreciation for their many supporters during this difficult time,” she said.
Kirk Brookshire, treasurer for Wimpey’s campaign issued a statement on Monday morning regarding the future efforts of that group.
“It’s our understanding that Tim plans to continue with his campaign,” he said. “It’s the intention of the entire campaign staff to resign immediately.
“For his family’s sake, we hope Tim will be able to work through these problems,” he said. “Tim should be commended for raising awareness of problems in Dawsonville. We hope that more people will take an active role in their community.”
DOT loses wrongful death suit: Jury awards family $1.1 million, saying a bush obstructed the view
By STEPHEN GURR
A Dawson County jury awarded $1.1 million to the survivors of a Gainesville woman who died from injuries suffered in a car accident after deciding the Georgia Department of Transportation was negligent in failing to cut down a large bush that obstructed her view of a road.
Shirley Sosebee, a 67-year-old technician at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, died four months after the August 2003 crash at the intersection of State Route 9 and Perimeter Road in Dawsonville.
Sosebee did not have a clear view of northbound traffic on State Route 9 approaching from the right side of Perimeter Road because of a 10-foot olive bush on state right-of-way property, plaintiff’s attorney Bonnie Jones said. A Georgia State Patrol accident report noted the obstruction, Jones said.
Sosebee’s car was struck broadside by a Dodge Dakota pickup driven by 16-year-old Joshua Doug Silvers of Dawsonville after she pulled the car into its path.
The lawsuit was brought by Sosebee’s children, Jane Bailey and Frank Sosebee of Dawsonville.
Steven Leibel, the Dahlonega attorney who tried the case with Jones, said evidence presented in the four-day trial showed that officials with the Christ Redeemer Catholic Church located near the intersection called the Dawson County DOT office two weeks prior to the accident to complain about the bush blocking the view of motorists. Leibel said the DOT kept no record of that call, and the agency initially questioned whether the property was a state right-of-way.
A Dawson County Superior Court jury took three hours deliberating late last week before returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.
“I think the jury was saying to the DOT that they better get their record-keeping in order and if there are complaints about sight obstructions, the DOT should properly record them and follow up on them,” Leibel said.
The bush was cut down by an unknown person after the accident.
Teri Pope, a spokeswoman for the DOT, said she could not comment on litigation.
Daryl Robinson, a spokesman for the office of the state attorney general which defended the case, said no decision had been made on whether to appeal.
“An appeal is certainly a possibility, but we’re looking at several options in determining what to do next,” Robinson said.
Sosebee was well-liked by her colleagues at the hospital, including one physician who testified during the trial, Leibel said. Staffers recently held a memorial for her, he said.
FULTON COUNTY DAILY REPORTER
Verdicts & Settlements
A Dawson County jury ruled that the Georgia Department of Transportation negligently allowed a 10-foot-tall bush to block the sightline along a roadway, and awarded $1,183,000 to the survivors of a woman who died of injuries sustained when she drove into an intersection and was struck by an oncoming car.
Shirley Sosebee was 67 years old when she approached the intersection of Perimeter Road and State Route 9 North in Dawsonville on Aug. 14, 2003, according to a complaint filed in Dawson County Superior Court. She halted at a “stop bar” and, unable to see up the road because of a looming shrub bordering the grounds of a Catholic church, proceeded across the highway and was struck by a teen driver, Joshua D. Silvers, who was at the wheel of his father’s car.
According to the suit, Sosebee suffered severe head injuries “which left her incommunicative.” She was hospitalized and died four months later.
“Initially, we didn’t know whose bush it was,” said Steven K. Leibel who, with associate Bonnie L. Jones, represented Sosebee’s adult children, Jane Bailey and Frank Sosebee.
“We got into it with everybody,” said Leibel. “We served the state, we served the Catholic church; then we found out that the church had also complained about the bush, so we dismissed them.”
Silvers and his father, Darren Foster, settled out of court, said Leibel, and Leibel pursued the DOT.
In an unusual turn, the attorney was forced to refile his case early this year when, he said, he was stricken with laryngitis during opening arguments at Dawson County’s old courthouse more than a year ago.
“In the old courthouse, there’s no acoustics, no mics, and you have to argue over the sound of all the trucks going by, and I just lost my voice after about three hours,” he said. The judge allowed the case to be refiled and argued in the county’s new courthouse in a three-and-a-half-day trial before Barrow County Senior Judge T. Penn McWhorter, after which a jury took three hours to award his clients $528,548 and their mother’s estate $654,439.
Even the state’s expert witness, Leibel said, conceded that the bush obstructed the view of the roadway.
“The jury did find there was some contributory negligence on the part of Mrs. Sosebee,” said Leibel. Even so, he noted, “I think what swayed them was the total lack of accountability of the part of the DOT. They kept no records of complaints at all … they wrote them down of scraps of paper, sticky notes, and never followed up at all.”
The case was defended by Assistant Attorney General Robert C. Edwards. An effort to get a comment from the office of Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker was unsuccessful.
The case is Bailey v. Georgia Department of Transportation, No. 2007-CV-40-B.
DAWSON NEWS & ADVERTISER
Dawson jury rules DOT at fault in fatal wreck
By CHARLES DUNCAN
A Dawson County jury has awarded the family of Shirley Sosebee more than $1.18 million related to the Aug. 14, 2003 crashed that subsequently led to Sosebee’s death.
After hearing four days of testimony, the jury ruled that the Georgia Department of Transportation’s failure to maintain the right of way along Georgia 9 was lead factor in the crash.
Reportedly, the jury award is the largest in Dawson County history.
The Shirley Sosebee family sought damages including property damage, medical expenses and funeral expenses. Visiting Judge T. Penn McWhorter presided over the civil action in Dawson County Superior Court, court records show.
They challenged the jury to find that DOT negligently failed to warn motorists of impaired visibility at the busy intersection of Perimeter Road and Georgia 9 North, court records show.
The plaintiffs also challenged the jury to find DOT at fault for failing to properly maintain the growth and vegetation at the busy intersection, court records show.
DOT representatives testified that the agency does right of way maintenance twice a year. They also alleged that the agency had not received any complaints about lack of visibility at the intersection.
That was disputed as the plaintiffs’ attorney introduced evidence that disputed that claim by DOT.
At the heart of the case was the pain and suffering Shirley Sosebee endured during her four-month battle to recover from the accident.
Shirley Sosebee died Dec. 14, 2003 following a four-month struggle to survive the life-threatening injuries, including a serious head injury suffered as a result of the crash, court records show.
Family members and doctors testified that Shirley Sosebee made strides in her recovery attempt. Doctors testified that she was aware at various times during her medical treatment.
However, in the end, Shirley Sosebee succumbed to her injuries.
Afterward the trial, jurors said that in the end, if a bush had been properly trimmed and maintained at Perimeter Road and Georgia 9 North, Shirley Sosebee would never have wrecked at the intersection.
The crash happened as Shirley Sosebee was traveling East on Perimeter Road headed in the direction of Perimeter and Georgia 9 North, patrol reports show.
She stopped her vehicle at the stop bar of the intersection. Vegetation located on the DOT right of way, obstructed her view. When Shirley Sosebee proceeded to cross the intersection, her vehicle was struck by a vehicle traveling northbound, driven by Joshua Doug Silvers, according to patrol reports.
Jurors felt that the un-maintained bushes at the intersection forced Shirley Sosebee to make an educated guess of whether there was oncoming traffic from Georgia 9 North.
Jurors awarded the family $528,548 in addition to an award of $654,439 to Shirley Sosebee’s estate.
The family declined comment about the case, rather, they hoped to put the painful episode behind them. Ultimately, the family is hoping for final closure to an unfortunate and painful chapter in their lives.
DOT had not appealed the verdict as of press time on Tuesday.