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Judge under fire for reversing rape verdict

Visiting Appeals Court judge overturns jury decision, citing Down Syndrome victim’s behavior

A Georgia Court of Appeals judge has come under fire for setting aside a jury’s guilty verdict in a local rape case he presided over in September 2012, the first criminal trial he had ever conducted.

In early January, Appeals Court Judge Christopher J. McFadden ordered a new trial for defendant William Jeffrey Dumas, who was convicted of two counts of rape and one count of sodomy. Dumas was sentenced to the minimum of 25 years in prison.

McFadden presided over the Fayette rape trial instead of a local Superior Court judge, the first time the jurist had ever wielded the gavel in a criminal jury trial. He reportedly had experience in civil court actions before winning a spot on the state’s second highest court.

McFadden, in a lengthy order justifying his decision, said the victim’s testimony was inconsistent and cited the lack of evidence that she “exhibited visible distress” in being around the defendant immediately following the alleged rape incidents.

“At no time prior to her outcry ... did (the victim) behave like a victim,” McFadden wrote. “Nor did Mr. Dumas behave like someone who had recently perpetrated a series of violent crimes against her. ... It requires more than that bald argument to satisfy this court that it should ignore the fact that, until the outcry, neither of them showed any fear, guilt or inclination to retreat to a place of safety.”

Aggravating emotions in this case is the fact that the victim, a 24-year-old Fayette woman, suffers from Down Syndrome.

After initially declining a request to recuse himself from the case, McFadden on Friday withdrew from the matter. But that leaves a strong likelihood that a new trial will commence regardless, since it is unlikely that decision can be appealed, said District Attorney Scott Ballard.

McFadden ultimately decided to “be an activist and overturn a jury verdict for no other reason than you don’t believe the victim acted like a victim and that he didn’t act like a rapist,” Ballard said.

Ballard said the victim cried after hearing the judge’s decision, but then she composed herself and decided to pursue a new trial.

“It was very hard for her to testify the first time because she didn’t want to even be in the same room where he was again,” Ballard said.

Pending the new trial, Dumas is out of jail on a $50,000 bond, wearing a GPS ankle monitor to track his whereabouts with an order to stay out of Fayette County and avoid contact with any of the victim’s family.

McFadden’s new trial order specifically notes that the victim during her initial outcry about the alleged rapes first said she was kidding and then claimed she wasn’t.

McFadden also writes that he doubts one of the rapes could have been committed, as the victim alleged, on an elevated bar chair or on a rolling task chair.

McFadden also criticized Ballard’s closing argument for mischaracterizing the findings of a medical doctor who examined the victim and said her findings were consistent with forcible rape, but not necessarily proof of it.

“On the contrary, she readily acknowledged on cross examination that her findings were also consistent with other explanations which could exclude forcible intercourse,” McFadden wrote. “So, while it is fair to say that this evidence corroborated the testimony that penetration occurred during the 12-hour period in question, the state’s argument greatly overstated the significance of Dr. Louman’s testimony.”

McFadden also raps Ballard for raising his voice during his closing argument in an “emotional appeal” that “may have been unduly prejudicial because the nature of the charges engendered an emotional intensity, apparent to the court during the jury selection process, that never dissipated.”

“That emotional intensity might have interfered with the jury’s ability to address the concerns set out above,” McFadden wrote.

Ballard’s office had argued that since McFadden used the privilege of sitting as the “13th juror” in overturning the jury’s ruling, McFadden has already sat in judgment of the case and must recuse himself.

Ballard said he has never seen a judge reverse a jury’s decision in such a manner.

“I think the legal community was stunned by what he did,” Ballard said.



highflyer2's picture

that just a few years ago we had judges that were using dead end streets to do their dirty little deeds? Now this yoyo comes and has his 15 minutes of fame acting as God! It's got to where there is not much difference in a "courthouse" and a "dirty little dive" just down the street.
Election time is nearing people, make your voices HEARD!

In case you missed it,McFadden has withdrawn from this case.

NUK_1's picture

Our fine DA Scott Ballard testified as a character witness for some drunk child molester and then claimed he was subpenaed when there is no record whatsoever of him ever being subpenaed and he flat-out lied about it. Yet, FC seems to love the guy and keeps re-electing him.

If I need to hear moral outrage about anything from someone, Ballard is at about at the bottom of the list. Really sorry for the victim here to have to go through this again undeserveningly, but Ballard needs to take a long look in the mirror before getting self-righteous about anything.

abeautifulday4us's picture

Superbly written, Nuk_1, about Scott Ballard.....Appeals Court Judge McFadden literally wrote the book on judicial procedure. Mr. Ballard has written two books in his career---- a compendium of his self-serving rants as well as "writing the book" on hypocrisy.

Pooler's picture

ANOTHER sexual assault victim is labeled a Liar!
So disturbing, yet another sexual assault victim is labeled a liar in this county!!!
Of all crimes committed against a person, rape is the one that leaves a person feeling the most violated. A rape victim is often left with the feeling that a part of them has been torn apart. Because the feeling is still with them, the victim may have a sense that the crime is continuously occurring. To use another person's body and ignore the soul that resides within is the most egregious crime that one person can commit against another. Source: ttp://
“Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.” - Gavin de Becker
“Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.” – Kurt Cobain
If there is a victim, there is a crime! Be assured HELP & JUSTICE is on the way with Lawless America Movie and Lawless America TV Show - release date 2014.
. . . . and then there is always Hercolubus!:-)

preside in a criminal court. I am glad his daddy wasn't a brain surgeon. This is just one more indication of how screwed up things are anymore. This man with no experience in a criminal court was given the chance to "experience" presiding over a criminal case. Not only does he overrule the jury's ruling but he makes the poor young lady with developmental issues look like a liar. She didn't act like she had been raped and the sleaze ball did not act like a rapist, this yoyo says. Pray tell, just how does a rapist act in court? Does he grab the court reporter or a jury member and throw her on the table and accost her? I would not be surprised if every case this idiot has presided over does not ask for a retrial---

This young woman who already has enough problems to face, had to suffer being raped, not once but several times, then face her rapist in court and have her testimony discredited because this poor excuse for a human, much less a criminal court judge thinks she didn't 'act like she had been raped.' Did he have a manual he referred to that indicated how she should act? or has he had experience himself? I am so against everyone filing a law suit over ever little perceived injustice but this is one time I hope this woman's family or guardian files a law suit against this individual and also against the one who decided to let him play criminal judge for a day. Of course, we as citizens would probably get hit with that bill---what should happen also is that this person be removed from the bench permanently. But that will probably not happen, not around here.

Except now he's a judge. This is a perfect example of why we should not rubber stamp Appellate Court Judges. Lawyers raise their voices during closing arguments Judge, it happens everyday. You shouldn't have let that scare you. Maybe you should go back to sitting on the porch.


Judge McFadden is a Republican that posed for a photo op with Supreme Court Justice Thomas. Why would you consider him a Liberal?

Please don't confuse the Fox "News" crowd with disturbing little things called "facts." The government is always bad. Anything unwelcomed is always liberal. Every Democrat is a socialist. Every tea bagger is a patriot.

Keep it simple for the tea baggers: Bread good, fire bad! It worked for Frankenstein.

About Tea that your go to line when you have no real rebuttal?

Vote Libertarian!

When there are those who profess to follow the 'Libertarian' philosophy - and would limit the Right To Vote for government workers? No thanks! But VOTE!

Certainly not me. But in my studies, the Libertarian Party seems to align more with my theories of Government than most. Especially on the Federal Level. Fiscally conservative and Socially more liberal.

I think you would understand my concern about the 'right to vote' issue - regardless of party. Like most Americans - I judge 'policies' on the basis of how it affects me and my family . At my tender age, I'm returning to how policies affect mankind.

Honestly - when 'listening' to the platforms of the political parties - there is more agreement than disagreement. I feel that if our leaders were sincerely interested in working for the American people - rather than winning the next election - our country would be in far better shape. Just saying.

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