DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - The defense team for suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis requested and was granted a delay in his criminal trial Thursday.
Judge Courtney Johnson did not set a
timetable for when the criminal trial might start, and unless Ellis is acquitted, he won't be returning to office.
"I think that what is at stake here is the liberty of an individual. He's facing some serious charges, and it's important that this process be deliberative and not rushed," said Ellis spokesman Jeff Dickerson.
Up until now, Ellis had insisted he wanted to face the corruption charges as quickly as possible so he could get his job back.
"What is of tantamount importance is that we take our time, that we give this time to go through the discovery phase in a thoughtful, deliberate and nonrushed manner," Dickerson said.
Johnson had originally set an aggressive schedule, with the trial set to begin in just a week and a half.
Now, Ellis's lawyers insist they need more time, writing in the motion, "Mr. Ellis cannot effectively prepare to meet the alleged charges and evidence against him at trial where the State has still failed to produce any discovery to the defense less than two weeks before trial."
Gov. Nathan Deal suspended Ellis after a grand jury indicted the politician on 15 counts that he used lists of county contractors to solicit campaign funds.
The indictment said he threatened to yank contracts of contractors who didn't contribute.
Under the law, since Ellis' team requested the delay, the only way Ellis can return to his elected job is if he's acquitted at trial.
"I think he will have his position back," Dickerson said.
When asked for a reaction to the delay, a spokesperson with the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office said, "We stand ready for trial."