Opening statements take unusual twist in APS cheating scandal trial

11:32 PM, Aug 23, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Opening statements got underway Friday at the first trial in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.

Former regional superintendent Tamara Cotman is accused of influencing a witness. Early in the courtroom Monday, the defense attorney reserved the right to even make an opening statement. 

Other attorneys at the Fulton County Superior Court said this is very unusual. Two said they've never heard of it happening before. It means the attorney can present his opening statement at any point before he presents any witnesses. 

Earlier that week on Monday, attorneys began to consider a pool of more than 200 potential jurors for the APS cheating scandal.   

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Court documents say Cotman engaged in a campaign of harassment against former Scott Elementary Principal Jimmy Hawkins. 

Cotman is accused of telling 12 principals in December, 2010 to write a "go to hell" memo to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents in the case investigating the test cheating in those schools. She pleaded not guilty to those charges.  

The trial is expected to take three to four weeks. 

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