I don’t believe I have ever met Tanya Jeffords. But when I do, I gotta shake the lady’s hand. As one of the hired defense attorneys for Augusta Judicial Circuit Assistant Public Defender Alexia (Lexi) Davis, she has deployed one of the most ingenious plans I have ever seen as she fights felony charges that Davis improperly kept a $10,000 ring she found in a Columbia County restaurant’s parking lot.
Jeffords used the Jail Report to launch a pre-emptive strike, clearly attempting to cast doubt on the guilt of her client, and the motives of the Magistrate judge issuing the warrant, the DA’s office and Columbia County Sheriff’s investigators, even before Davis was formally arrested and booked on the charges Tuesday morning.
Coincidentally, Jeffords had been working on another, completely separate case with Jail Report owner and publisher Greg Rickabaugh. Through that work, Jeffords must have decided that she liked the former Augusta Chronicle reporter-turned mini media-magnate, because early Monday night she was calling him back concerning the Davis case.
Before she was able to get too deep into the history of the case, Rickabaugh admitted he knew about the charges and the fact that Davis’s arrest was imminent. Acknowledging her client’s job in the criminal justice system was going to immediately turn the matter into a cause celebre, Jeffords asked if the JR would run a statement explaining their side of the case that would accompany the facts as the authorities intend to lay them out.
Rickabaugh readily agreed, and this was the unedited statement Jeffords submitted on behalf of her client:
“At this time warrants have been issued by the associate magistrate who is not a lawyer in Columbia County for Ms. Davis for the crime of theft of lost or mislaid property. ‘A person commits the offense of theft of lost or mislaid property when he comes into control of property that he knows or learns to have been lost or mislaid and appropriates the property to his own use without first taking reasonable measures to restore the property to the owner.’ No matter what shadow the Sheriff and the District Attorney’s office tries to cast upon Ms. Davis’ impeccable reputation and her motives, the legal fact is that she did not appropriate the ring for her own use, which is the crime this statute is intending to cover. When she learned who the owner was through the postings online from the Sheriff’s Office, she promptly turned it in. She knew it was valuable but she had neither sold it nor wore the ring as if it was hers. I trust that Columbia County will do the right thing. They will likely wonder why their tax dollars are being spent to prosecute a person when the lady who lost the ring got her ring back. Ms. Davis should not have to present a defense as to whether she took reasonable measures to restore the property to the owner, because the lady did get her ring back as soon as Ms. Davis knew who she was. Mere possession of the property for a length of time does not constitute a crime. As her lawyers and as her friends, we will all prepare for trial and pray that the right thing will be done. Ms. Davis is represented by Tanya Jeffords, Charles Lyons, Jacque Hawk, and Jack Long.”
The statement was published in its entirety on the Jail Report’s social media pages, and was set to appear in print this week as well.
Somewhere, Perry Mason has to be laughing his ass off.
The Jail Report has been described by any number of media snobs, community leaders and accused criminals (and their families) as the scurge of the Fourth Estate. They say that its success and popularity is proof positive that Western civilization as we know it is about to implode. Critics have derided the publication, which lists as many arrest mug shots from area jails as space will allow, as a voyeuristic visit to the gutter, which leaves everyone looking guilty before they have had their day in court.
Yeah, well bollocks to the critics! The JR is doing the same thing the rest of us in the media business have been doing since time immemorial: reporting arrests and interesting police blotter fodder. They simply do it with more pictures, better packaging and fewer stock market reports.
The CSRA’s standard bearer in daily journalism, the aforementioned former professional home of the JR’s owner, the Augusta Chronicle, has recently taken to providing links to its own set of mug shots every week, clearly yielding to the popularity of the material and demand of the marketplace.
This unprecedented pre-emptive defense move on Davis’ behalf appears to me to be the criminal bar’s own admission that the tabloid, and its place in the local market, is a force to be reckoned with. Maybe Davis will tell her story to the TV reporters, or perhaps even the Austin Rhodes Show, before she has to tell it to the judge. But no matter what, all of us, including the judge, will be finishing behind Rickabaugh’s tabloid.
Based on the support Davis seems to be getting from the JR’s almost 70,000 Facebook fans, it appears the move is paying off. You Might Also Like: