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Lobbyist avoids felony cocaine charge in Fulton

Special to SEGAZINE

A lobbyist for a private prison company recently avoided jail time for felony cocaine possession, after receiving a sweetheart deal from a Fulton County judge.

John Clayton (shown right), who is a registered Georgia lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America, was taken into custody by Atlanta police in February on charges of criminal trespass, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, and possession of cocaine.

The trespass and obstruction charges are misdemeanors. The cocaine possession charge is a felony, and carries a prison sentence of between one and fifteen years. A felony conviction for possession of cocaine won’t appear on Clayton’s record, however, due to the fact that Fulton County Magistrate Judge Karen Woodson placed Clayton’s case on the dead docket after he completed a pre-trial intervention program.

A dead docket is a list of court cases that have been postponed indefinitely, but may be reinstated at any time at the pleasure of the court. A case that has been dead-docketed almost never comes back before a judge.

Georgia Unfiltered has learned that John Clayton’s arrest for cocaine possession, earlier this year, was not his first encounter with the law.

In 2008, Clayton was arrested on seven charges of violation of restricted license, no driver’s license, speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of drugs, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Once again, John Clayton received a sweetheart deal from Fulton County State Court Judge Myra H. Dixon. All three of Clayton’s DUI charges were placed on the dead docket. Clayton entered into a negotiated plea on the reckless driving charge, and paid a $500 fine.

The firm Clayton lobbies for, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), operates three private prisons in Georgia. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, CCA operates the Wheeler Correctional Facility, Coffee Correctional Facility, and Jenkins Correctional Facility.

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