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June 10, 2020 46 mins

Phil and his team are back with a special announcement about the summer release of Sworn Season 2. Plus, hear from criminal justice professionals about the impacts of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, on the justice system and what happens when matters of life and liberty are put on pause.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hey, everyone, it's your host Philip Holloway. Here. Before we
get into this episode and an acknowledgement of this time
of protest and unrest, I wanted to provide some resources
for people looking for ways to affect meaningful, positive change
in the criminal justice system. Here at Sworn Podcast, we

(00:20):
have worked closely with the California Innocence Project, the Georgia
Innocence Project, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, and fam f a
m M formally Families Against Mandatory Minimum Sentencing. I can
personally attest that these organizations are doing incredible, much needed

(00:43):
work on some of the problems of the criminal justice system.
I encourage you to take a look at them for
yourself and support them in any way that you can.
At your local level, take a look at the track
records of officials in your area and decide whether or
not you support their decisions, and let your feelings be
known with your vote. That's the most direct line between

(01:07):
those officials and those that they serve. I really encourage
you to look closely at the judges, the sheriffs, the
district attorneys, and the city officials who directly impact how
justice is done for you and your community. If you
have any questions, our phone line is open at four
zero four for one zero zero four four one. Thank

(01:30):
you for listening. If you will place your left hand
on the Bible and raise your right hand, and please
repeat after me and I do titled action. Find the
defendant guilty of the crime. It makes no sense, it
doesn't fit. If it doesn't fit, you must equit. We

(01:52):
all took the same of the office. We are all
bound by that common commitment to support and defend the Constitution,
to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. Didn't
you faithfully discharge the duties of our office? Do you
solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you're about to
give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth. From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta and I

(02:13):
Heart Media, this is Swarn. I'm your host, Philip Holloway.
High Sworn listeners. We're coming to you today in between
seasons with a couple of special announcements. First off, we're
happy to announce that Sworn Season two will be released

(02:33):
wide and for free this summer right here wherever you
get your podcasts. There's going to be some stuff that
might sound familiar, but we've also got brand new episodes,
new experts, and new stories to tell. We hope you'll
join us in the meantime. I know my life as
a lawyer and as a citizen has been turned completely

(02:56):
upside down by the spread of the novel coronavirus or
COVID nineteen, and I know I'm not alone. We've put
together this special bonus episode to look at how this
pandemic has affected members of the legal system and the
justice community. We want to discuss what happens when matters

(03:16):
of life and liberty get put on pause. As you
might imagine, we recorded all of these interviews remotely, safely
over the phone or on the internet. Stay tuned to
the end of this episode to hear how COVID nineteen
affected me and my family in a very personal and
not so pleasant way. We spoke with a good friend

(03:53):
of mine, Michael Lascala. Michael is a criminal defense lawyer
here in the metropolitan Atlanta area, and like me, Mike
has seen a dramatic change in the way he does business.
There's a joke in our business that you're either a
writer or you're a fighter. I'm not a writer. I'm
a fighter, so I go to court and we deal

(04:14):
with cases. Inside a court, I would be in court
anywhere from three to four days a week, whether it's
motions or arrangements or you know, trials or whatever it is.
I have not been a court now in six weeks,
and I haven't had any dry cleaners for the first
time in twenty years. When this COVID thing got serious,

(04:38):
my staff was pretty on top of it and tried
to do more phone interviews, and sometimes that work, sometimes
it doesn't. We pretty much shut it down. I've had
client fact This morning, I had a client say, hey,
I wanted my son to come see you. He's a client.
I said, I'm just not taking interviews right now. I'm
not doing anything face to face, and she completely understood.

(05:00):
But ultimately I do want to get back to that.
I just don't know if it's safe at this point.
Certainly don't want to staff to have the anxiety with
people they don't know. I'm here at the office. I'm
here today and you know, working on cases that are
being prepped for trial, which probably will never go to
trial at least this year. But ultimately there's nothing else

(05:22):
to do, so you want to be productive. You want
to do something, so you just continue to work the case,
and work the case, and work the case. We are
directed by the Georgia Supreme Court, Justice Melton, who is
the chief Judge, sent out in order, and he did
what was in the best interest of everyone, which is

(05:44):
to shut it down. In fact that now we're going
I think till I remember the day correctly, it's June
fift or something along those lines. We're effectively shut down
for three months. My clients called me at the time,
is that what are we gonna do? You know, how
do we handle this? So there's nothing you can do.
You know, not that we ever would do it, but
you couldn't go in there complete guilty at all the charges.
Just there's nothing you can do. My practices in Fulton County,

(06:13):
and in Fulton County it is Grand Central Station any
day of the week. I mean, people packed onto elevators
and you may have to wait sometimes fifteen twenty minutes
to catch an elevator because it's too crowded you can't
get on. Those are the what I've dealt with for
twenty years of practice, and I don't see how that's
going to change unless you stagger it, but everybody wants

(06:35):
their day in court. I mean, you've got civil litigants,
you've got contract disputes, you've got divorces, you've got medical malpractice,
you've got arrayments, you've got first appearances, you've got motions,
you've got everything under the sun, and everybody's case is important.
How do you figure out who's gonna go first? Do
we start with the backlog? Do we start what's going

(06:55):
moving forward and figure out what to do with the backlog.
We've got great leadership down there, and I think the
right thing will be done, but it's certainly gonna be
a headache for all the players involved. There's an assistant
district attorney, a deputy district attorney I was on the
phone with yesterday trying to work on a case that

(07:15):
we're supposed to have a zoom meeting in in two weeks,
and I said, you know, you're down there by yourself,
because there's three of us down there now. In Fulton
County District Attorney's office, they have a hundred and I
think it's like a hundred and twenty lawyers and there's
three of them down there. The problem, though, is they
don't have the five they may be able to look
at something electronically if I send it to them. What

(07:36):
district attorneys are always hasn't to make a firm commitment
about anything until they've reviewed the file diligently, and I
can't argue with that. I'm starting to see, more so
now in the last week than even the last five
previous weeks, is I've got a lot of solicitors and

(07:56):
a das that are starting to reach out and say, hey,
we need to start putting this on our radar. You know,
everybody understands there's gonna be a tsunami of cases hitting
their desk, you know, unless they want to stay twenty
four hours a day, seven days week for the next
thirty six months. We got to start chipping away at
this block because they're not going anywhere. They're not going
to dismiss the cases, and I'm not leading to them.

(08:17):
So we're gonna have to see what's the reasonable resolution
that we can get done under the circumstances. A deal
that I may not have gotten three months ago is
certainly gonna be on the table now. As a defense attorney,
Michael represents many clients who are currently in jail or
even in prison awaiting their day in court. I asked

(08:39):
him how those clients are doing during this crisis, and
whether any of them have gotten any special permission to
go home. We were successful in federal court to get
a released for an inmate just recently, so the motions
are being filed and the judges are giving them their attention.
It's just some cases. I understand the sire any of it.

(09:01):
They're just not comfortable doing it. I don't know if
I agree with it. I certainly understand it. We have
one that it's a very serious case that we've just
been unsuccessful in getting him out. In fact, he caught
the coronavirus while he's at the Fulton County jail. It's terrific.
It's him and another gentleman who also has the virus
stuck in there, and he's fearful for his life. When

(09:22):
you're in jail, you worry about things exponentially, and is
he going to get the treatment he deserves and all
those things. Now, he's a young guy and hopefully he'll
pull through, which I don't doubt he will, but certainly
there's some stress and some real fear amongst his family.
I used to get I don't know five ten phone
calls a day from different potential clients. We probably get

(09:45):
five to ten calls a week now, I mean, it
just doesn't exist. I was hired this morning on a case.
It's the first larger case I've gotten in at least
two months. My law partner, Manny, he does primary late,
but in addition to state court, it doesn't many federal cases,
and so federal court, for whatever reason, seems to be
just ramped up and moving a lot quicker. In fact,

(10:08):
he was in federal court yesterday on a case in
Fulton or any other jurisdiction. Say, emotions day, you may
be first, you may be last, but you and the
other hundred people in the court room, they're gonna be
sitting around until your case is resolved. That's just the
way that it works because the numbers are so overwhelming
in state court versus federal court. We also discussed some

(10:33):
of the other day to day effects of this legal
shutdown that Michael and his clients are experiencing. There are
things that have collateral consequences, even if you haven't an
arrest on your record. There are sometimes that are job
implications or promotions and things of that nature. You need
a resolution. Everybody has the right to a jury trial.

(10:55):
This is one of the more regular calls in getting
right now, is I missed the traffic citations and warrant
from my arrest. I need to go down and clean
it out. No, you can't. There is literally nowhere to
go down and clean it out with. So someone may
have a suspended license and they can't go and get
a regular license because they have to clear up the case.
You may have immigration issues where oh, my immigration lawyer

(11:18):
needs a certified disposition of this case from ten years ago.
You can't get it. The clerk's office isn't there to happen.
Most of the functions of the court are real severe
as in like temporary protective orders so a spouse won't
get injured killed by their you know, delinquents. The bond

(11:41):
hearing's first appearances, I have a client right now that
has a d U I. But if they didn't take
him to jail yet, so as soon as this is over,
he has to go turn himself in then bond out.
I asked him if he's seen an increase or decrease
in any of the types of cases that he's been
getting calls about Unfortunately, as everyone knows, um use of

(12:05):
illicit drugs, their alcohol is I have I've been hired
on a couple of d UI cases. I've got hired
on two domestic violence cases. You know, when you get
people cooped up for six weeks and their during day
drinking and all that, it's just a recipe for exaster.
It's wonderful coming to work right now because my commune

(12:26):
is about half there's no cars, there's no traffic. I
got a notice from USA A my insurance company, that
they're refunding five million dollars because there's nothing going on.
There's no accidents. So all this money that is polled
as being dispersed Geico returned over to billion Manny and

(12:47):
I have two associates and we've got two paralegals. So
we're a nice small firm. They've got kids, they've got mortgages,
they've got car payments. We can't furlough anybody and not
pay them. I just don't think it's fair. But we
have not received deny p p P money. We've applied
for it. P p P money is the Paycheck Protection
Program loan that was made available to small businesses in

(13:09):
an effort to keep people employed while businesses down. Like Michael,
I run a small private practice and we have four employees,
including myself. Our business has seen a dramatic hit. We're
probably down from where we were this time last year.
I had to tell you the process of applying for

(13:31):
P p P was a nightmare. When I'm recording this
in late May, the banks and government systems have pretty
well figured it out, but the application process in the
beginning was brutal and it was extremely frustrating. And I'm
speaking for not just me, but everybody else that I

(13:51):
know who went through this process. People are having to
scramble to reprioritize what bills get paid and when they
get paid. People pay lawyers because, let's face it, they
are inspired or maybe afraid of what the judge might
do to them. And if the judge is not working
because of the courts were shut down, then people have

(14:14):
much less incentive to hire a lawyer. I have many
clients around payment plans. In front of the month comes up,
you send out a bill to them. The overwhelming majority
of them have asked for you know, hey, look and
I just skipped this month or skipped two months, and
you know, I like all of my clients, I really do.
I'm really blessed with some really great people. How can

(14:38):
you say no to that? You know they're hurting. It's
not like they're gonna go and frivously waste this money
and go on a trip to Italy, because they're just
not gonna happen. But we are business and I have
a family I need to feed too, and that's why
I explained to clients. And I think if you're straightforward
with them and explain, hey, look, I know you're hurting,
but we're all hurting. We all have to make some
seting devices. Let's figure out that something reasonable. I think

(14:59):
that word reasonable is gonna be a key word for
the next twelve to eighteen months. What's reasonable under the circumstances.
Of course, let's face it, an important part of the
legal system is timing inefficiency. For better or worse. There
are many cases to get through every single day, and

(15:21):
often the responsibility to move that business, as we say,
falls in the hands of the judges. I wanted to
hear more about how that responsibility is being handled and
what judges are doing and can do to keep the
justice system moving along. My name is Rob Leonard On,

(15:43):
a Superior Court judge in Cobb County, Georgia. We're a
court of general jurisdictions. We handle pretty much everything from
A to Z in both the civil and criminal world.
The only thing that you really don't see in Superior
court is is probading, a will, a juvenile delinquency, pursued eatings,
unless really serious crime, those can come with Superior Court

(16:04):
and get charged as adults. Pretty much. If it can
be filed and cop canty, it can be filed in
Superior Court. For the most part, the average day before
this pandemic was about like it had been for the
last I don't know, several hundred years in the court system,
court system dating all the way back to its origins.
I mean it was a public gathering. It was it

(16:26):
was entertainment way back when you know, before television and whatnot.
Court proceedings, of course have to be open to the public,
and the way that we've always done things have required
large gatherings of people. For example, I was handling a
criminal calendar, I would have a list of cases that
would all get noticed appear in court on the same day.

(16:48):
So let's say it was fifty cases. I would have
I would have itty defendants, I would have fifty lawyers,
I would have the prosecutors, I would have some moms
and dads and whoever was there for support, not have
a full courtroom. And that's that's the way that we
did business, and almost all of it was in person.
So this has really caused us to rethink the way

(17:13):
that we do business because we just can't keep people
safe and continue those practices. I asked Judge Robert Leonard
what official orders or directions he and other judges have
received and issued regarding holding or stopping court, as well
as what other decisions judges came to on their own.

(17:36):
There have been several orders system a couple that have
come out of the Supreme Court. There was one that
was issued here locally. We had a judges meeting, we
declared a juditional emergency in our circuit in the statewide
order went into effect, and it really has shut down
the common sense of things like we can't be having
large calendars, we can't be forcing people into court in groups.

(18:02):
We're not ready and not going to be ready anytime
soon to summon jurors in for jury selection. Each judge
has the ability to go ahead and participate in video
conference or teleconference hearings. If you look at Chief Justice

(18:23):
Melton's order, the most recent one that came out gave
a little more encouragement to go ahead and adopt this technology.
So I think that we're going to see that it's
going to become more widespread. But I've been using Zoom heavily.
Now we're on Zoom right now recording this, and one
of the frustrations has been getting lawyers acclimated with the software,

(18:48):
getting some of the parties acclimated with the software. I'm
relatively young for a superior court judge, and the picking
up the technology hasn't been too big of a challenge.
But five days ago, I didn't know what Zoom was.
And now I'm recording screencast of the way that I
set up my settings, and I've recording screencasts of how

(19:09):
to conduct a hearing and how operate breakout rooms and
all of that kind of stuff, and I'm sharing with
colleagues on the bench to try to get everyone up
to speed. You might imagine across our state, we've got
judges that very widely in age, very widely with technology
that's been available to them, and I'm sure, We've got
judges in the state that don't know how to get

(19:30):
their email on their cell phone, and this is posing
a real problem. I feel lucky that I'm able to
conduct hearings. I've had court almost every day last week
and every day this week so far. I think there's
really essential staff right now is the support staff. Those
are the folks that opened the files, prepare of the discovery,

(19:52):
run the criminal history. I think that's the biggest need
right now in order to get moving. One of the
hurdles that I find in conducting these virtual court sessions
that I've been doing is how do you satisfy public
access right. There's a constitutional right to an open court

(20:14):
room and public access to the proceedings, So I can't
just haul off and have court anytime I want to
without telling anymore. My solution to that has been twofold.
I'll make a list of cases that I'm going to
hear virtually with the name of the case and the
case number. I'll put a link onto Twitter, and that
link will go to the YouTube channel that I livestream

(20:37):
to on the Zoom. I think these changes a good
many of them have the potential to stick long term.
You know, really it's on us that we let the
old system go on for as long as it did.
But it worked, and there just wasn't any real reason
to fix what had had worked for so long. Like

(20:59):
the other day, I did an adoption on Zoom for
the first time, and let's say those people a lot
of trouble and expense. Usually everybody's got to be there,
and so they would have had to have purchased plane
tickets from Arizona in this particular case. And we just
got everybody on Zoom and did it that way and
it wasn't though, it wasn't a problem. So there are

(21:20):
efficiencies that you can find in it, and for that
I think it's very workable. While judges have been able
to hold some hearings and meetings online, the big question
regarding criminal cases is what about a defendants constitutional right
to a trial in front of a jury of their

(21:41):
peers or to confront witnesses against them. That means being
together in the same room. When are we going to
get to jury trials? Anybody's guess. My best guess is
that it's probably not something that can even be considered
until kids are back in school, Until you're going to

(22:02):
an autline of braves game, and I think we're going
to have a real hard time feeling comfortable summoning that
number of people to court and making them feel feel safe.
We have an obligation to to move the business, and
we have an obligation to make sure that the cases
are working their way through and nobody's rights to see

(22:26):
trial are being violated. This isn't really anyone's fault. You know.
You can't say, well, this is the judge is balled,
or this is the state's balled or anything, or the
defendants balled or anything like that. It's just different, and
it takes special considerations to trying to figure out how
are we going to do that? And we might get

(22:47):
jury trial started back up sooner if we can figure
out a way to do jury selection virtually, like, for example,
if we were in old to check injurors, give them
an oath conducted jury selection on technology like the one
we're on now, then we could only have the twelves
that got picked. Report you can socially distanced twelve people,

(23:10):
you you really are going to struggle to do it
forty two or however many you know that you think
you need to pick your jury with If you could
think back to your days when you were a trial
lawyer and not a judge and you were picking a jury,
do you remember how important it was to you as

(23:30):
an advocate to be in the same physical space with
a prospective juror so that you could maybe get a
close look at their body language or these intangible qualities
that comes only with face to face human interaction. Do
you remember that, and don't you think that's something that's
important for lawyers when they're litigating cases. It's a nice

(23:54):
leading question there, Mr Hallway. I will tell you I
remember you. If I was a lawyer and and I
was gonna have to depict a jury, I would much
prefer to be in a pot room with them where
I can see and they can see me, and I
can hear, and if anything goes wrong I can I
can fix it right then and there I can make

(24:15):
a record of it. You know, in person is kind
of be preferable always. And there are going to be
cases where say, okay, uh, Mr Holloway, I can get
your case tried in if we're able to do virtual
jury selection, I can find you something this fall. If

(24:37):
we can't, I don't know when it's going to be.
I can tell you we're coming up with a number
of ideas and there will be a plan a Plan B,
and a Plan C and probably a D. I don't know.
We'll just work through them. And those that we can't
because of an objection, or maybe it's a kind of
case that just doesn't lend itself to being handled the

(25:00):
virtual passion, and that might just be something that has
to wait a walk. One thing that this legal shutdown
has really pointed out to me and driven home is
how many businesses really do depend on the courthouse being open.
When you drive by the courthouse in any town, even
where I live, I see restaurants, I see parking lots,

(25:23):
and I see stores that depend on the courthouse crowd
for all sorts of things. These businesses are hurting and
some of them are shutting down some forever. One of
the industries impacted like this is the bail bonding industry.
We spoke with Shitara Harper, who works at a Georgia

(25:43):
bail bonding office. We wanted to see how their business
has been changed by the pandemic. My name is Satyra Harper.
I am the administrator slash paralegal for a bill bonds
agent see here in Cobb County. On a normal day,

(26:05):
I am responsible for basically keeping the wheels turning in
my office, so like I am responsible for all of
our case management, all of our files. In bail bonds,
we have bond forfeit your hearings, so I'm in court
a lot. So a lot of my mornings are going
down to the courthouse for the bond forfeit your hearings,
in putting files, drafting motions to send out to attorneys,

(26:28):
and things like that. So a bill bond's agency is
basically like a company that will loan a defendant in
their family the money to get out of jail. Once
we know that amount, then you know, we speak to
the family um and they pay us a percentage and
then we post the full amount of the bond in

(26:50):
order for that person to get out of jail, and
once they've completed their case, we get our money back.
People generally like to lay their eyes on us, especially
when they're spending large sums of money. And then also
we are in close proximity to the jail, so a
lot of the time the family members are at the
jail or the person has just gotten out of jail

(27:12):
and we have documentation and things like that that we
need for them to sign. So we do have a
lot of foot traffic in our office under normal circumstances.
I can't honestly say the exact moment that I knew
that it would be a problem. I believe that when
we all started being afraid for our health is when

(27:35):
we started making changes. We used to have this large
meeting table in the front room. Now we've removed that.
We brought in more masks and gloves and more hand
sanitizer and things like that. There was the creation of
this digital document platform that we use now, and so
instead of having people come in, you know, we send

(27:56):
out the forms and they don't ever have to come
into the office. So I think that it started with
us starting to fear for our safety. The courts shut
down probably I think March sixteenth or seventeen. I do
know that people are still working in the courthouse, but

(28:16):
you cannot just walk into the courthouse as it was before.
They're certainly not holding any of the hearings that I
would attend. So the bond forfeit your hearings have now
been shut down until it's you know, safe for the
courts to reopen. It has been challenging, but you know,
we still have been able to make it work. When

(28:41):
the government pushed out what was considered essential business, we
were in fact on the list. I guess the idea
kind of was like, if we have to keep the
jails open, if we have to keep the police officers
out there, we owe these people are right to get
out of jail should they be arrested. You know, I
took this job just personally because this is a service

(29:04):
that people will always need in this county. They arrest
hundreds of people a day on a regular basis, and
so there's plenty of business to pick and choose from.
Really common are d uise and like simple battery, obstruction
of a law enforcement officer. We have not seen a
lot of that lately at all, because people are not out.

(29:27):
You know, that kind of keeps our ship aflow because
we're counting on those We get those smaller bonds all
the time, those types of things that we see often
that we haven't been seeing because people have been staying home.
I think the lowest that we saw was thirteen people
arrested in in twenty four hours, and then once they
get arrested, we are up against the judge just letting

(29:49):
them sign themselves out on what's called their own recognizance bond,
which basically means that they don't have to pay any money.
They can just sign and say, you know, I promised
to show up in court. So that takes business away
from us as well. You know, you have the others
that have done serious things that may have no bond,
and then you have other businesses also vying for those

(30:10):
few left in the barrel. So they've only arrested thirteen
people and six of them get to sign their own bonds,
and then several different companies trying to get that same business.
So yes, we have seen a dramatic drop in business.
I think that the long term problem that I think

(30:31):
about is just all of the people that have been
released on signature bonds. That's going back to the owner
cognizant bonds that I was talking about. It's called we
call them signature bonds mainly because I live in this
the same community where I work, and those people are
in my community and you're letting them out and they

(30:51):
don't have really any skin in the game, so to speak.
I think that having to post the bill and spend
your heart on money to get out of jail is
kind of a deterrent for future crime. And so, as
a member of this community, the idea of people just
being set free without having any immediate repercussions for what

(31:13):
they've done is scary to me. The times that we're
living in are very trying, and the circumstances are unusual.
I have two small children and we were in Walmart
and I was telling them instead of telling people that
you want them to keep their space from you, you

(31:33):
just move. It's easier for you to say, just move.
But you know, we've seen things where people fight because
people are in their personal space and they want to
protect their safety, or people being pulled off of public
transit because they don't have masks on the entire world
has had to make an adjustment to accommodate this virus
that was unexpected and unknown. None of us know what

(31:57):
to do. Being compassionate towards your neighbor, I think is
something that I would like to see everyone doing in general,
not just from a business standpoint. We spoke with an
old friend of mine, Chief Mike Wilkie. Chief Wilkie is

(32:18):
the chief of police in the city of St. Mary's, Georgia. St.
Mary's is right on the coast and across the state
line from Jacksonville, Florida. Chief Wilkie also is a professor
of public administration and criminal justice. We spoke with him
about the changes that he's had to make for himself
and his officers now that social distancing is the new norm, because,

(32:42):
let's face it, policing has always been an up in
personal proposition. On an average day, all my personal interaction
was close and of course our officers are, you know,
if they're taking reports, speaking with people, stopping people for

(33:02):
speeding violations, all of their interaction is fairly close down.
You know, we have a hospital which is in the seat,
and there would be the occasional need to go over there,
either to take somebody to the hospital that we had
in custody, or to respond to something in the emergency
room where there was an issue there and they needed
police intervention. So we felt like we were just as

(33:24):
exposed as you could be. We had a pair of
rubber gloves on our duty belt, and you know, if
you get to a scene and somebody's bleeding all over
the place, where we know not to step in it,
not to touch it. That's really about all I think
probably that your average officer paid attention to. When the

(33:44):
first COVID matters started coming out eight to ten weeks ago,
we just sort of backed up and said, what are
we gonna do? So we really went through the throws
and trying to understand how to exercise and protection for ourselves.
We give masks to our folks, and you know, there's
a little quibbling about whether or not you're gonna wear

(34:05):
a mask when you're a police uniforming and my thought
on it was, I don't care about the uniform, I
care about the person. We need to do what we
can to protect the individual. Some masks and gloves became
fairly standard. A business entity in town was concerned about
this for the fire department and the police department, and
they provided some funding for something that amounted to like

(34:29):
a defumigator type of thing, and so we were daily
driving our vehicles through once a day for for this device.
We used to spray the interior so as clean and
disaffective as it could be. Everybody sort of already had
some of the hand sanitizers in the car, and that
sort of thing, but we're really trying to make sure

(34:50):
if everybody's got that. Now, we put in some regulations
about entering the building, going in and out, making sure
you use hand sanitizers. Come of the building, the first
thing you do is go wash your hand. Here. We
did have one of our personnelity that showed up and
tested positive for us, and so that gave us some
consternation for a time. So the fact that we had

(35:13):
though somebody immediately in our department in this very rural
county in southeast Georgia, brought our radar right up that
you know, we need to be careful. Several of our
people did go for the testing, and thankfully they all
came back negatively. We did not really get anything specific

(35:35):
from say, the Governor's office. The Governor's executive wards were
especially be enforced by the sheriff. Of these local police
were specifically written out, and subsequent iterations of that local
police were included. We have taken a posture of being educational.

(35:56):
If there was let's say, a restaurant and you know,
we heard that folks and some of the great staff
we're not wearing masks. We might go by and say, hey,
you know, let's let's make you aware of this, because
this is what the executive ward is from the from
the government are restaurants in places like that or licensed entities,
and so the state does have some ability to control

(36:19):
what they do. And we would say, you know, you
folks need to have one mask, which please do that,
and they'd say, oh, yes, sure, I'm so sorry, or
we ran out world the way to get some more
or things like that, and so we have been we
tried the education to it. I don't believe that any
citations have been written by this agency, either on the
law enforcement agency or from our code enforcement, which is

(36:42):
kind of a separate entity. And in the city we
put it no changes and been telling the people not
to make traffic stops or that sort of thing. We've
left that discretionary and so our personnel have continued to
have that level of interaction from an enforcements and point
with the public. We did make some internal change where

(37:04):
if someone made to report a stolen bicycle or something
that was a fairly low level type of thing, the
dispatcher would obtain a telephone number and we would take
a report. And that's actually worked out to be Sarah
sort of convenience for us, and we may we may
continue that. Probably one of the biggest issues for us

(37:26):
is that on occasion we've had to take someone into
custody and take them to the jail, which is operated
by another law enforcement entity, and we've had some issues
with people being accepted by the jail because their temperature
may have been slightly elevated or something of that nature.
So it kind of made some a little bit of
issue for our folks and where not we could even

(37:47):
take someone to jail if they were under arrest, and
that was particularly troublesome if it was, you know, a fellow.
We asked Chief Wilkie whether his officers had seen any
substantial increases or decreases the types of calls they were answering.
I asked our personnel so that I was walking into
this innerview blind, you know, if they if we've noticed

(38:09):
anything of any increased activity that that sort of thing.
And I really don't have any feedback from our personnel
that that sort of thing has happened. The George Association
Chiefs at least did a survey of the agencies. I
think that there were about ten percent of them that
responded that they that they had seen an increase in
domestic violence type events in our area. I don't think

(38:33):
that it's really made a great deal of difference. The
state of Georgia, where we're located, made headlines a while
back for being one of the first states to begin
the process of being reopened for business. I had heard
that people were coming into Georgia from neighboring states to
visit all kinds of businesses. Since Chief Wilki's town is

(38:55):
right across the border from Florida, I asked him if
he'd seen Floria a license plate around town. I can't
not answer about the massages and tattoo partners because I
just don't personally keep up with them. We do have
some restaurants and establishments that are open in town now
that may be one of their features of service of

(39:16):
alcoholic beverage. And we have noticed a number of Florida tags.
Same thing with some churches into Harry and we didn't
interfere with them, but we did look and we noticed
that there are several churches have just had a lot
of Florida tags in the parking lots. As a coastal city,
Chief Wilkie is facing another problem just around the corner

(39:37):
that he's also starting to prepare for him As to
COVID Nineteam, I'm coming to the understanding that the hotter
it gets, the more difficulty that virus is going to
have to survive, and so we're just praying that hot
weather hurry up and get here, because fairly shortly we're
going to start turning our attention to hurricane preparation, and

(39:58):
we don't want to be had to deal with both
crises at the same time. In the last week of March,
I'd come home from a couple of round trip flights,
and after a few days, I found myself feeling this

(40:19):
overwhelming sense of fatigue. I was flatly exhausted. I eventually
started running a fever. It got up to about a
hundred and two point five. I knew something was up,
something wasn't right. This was different. I'd never run a
fever like this in years, and the chills and fatigue

(40:43):
were unlike anything that I had experienced before. I didn't
have a cough, but I checked in remotely with my doctor,
some friends who are doctors, and even a family member
who is a medical professional, and all of them said
that this sound it exactly like COVID nineteen. Well, my

(41:05):
wife made sure that I took pretty quick action. She
moved me down to the basement for almost two weeks,
away from her and her kids. She fed me food
through the door. She managed all of the regular and
new household tasks that already were on her plate, including
homeschooling our two children. It was frankly awful feelings so

(41:29):
rundown and watching my wife take on all of these responsibilities.
I knew I needed to stay away from them though,
until I could get tested so I would not pass
anything along to the rest of my family. Around ten
days into this ordeal, I made a telemedicine appointment with
a nurse practitioner who ordered me the COVID nineteen nasal swab.

(41:55):
So I drove myself to a back parking lot of
this medical practitioner's office, where the workers had me swabbed
my own nose for influenza and for COVID nineteen. The
influenza test came back negative the same day. A couple
of days later, lo and behold, the COVID test was
negative too, so I immediately rejoined my family. I was

(42:21):
feeling better by that point, but I wasn't completely well,
but since they told me I did not have COVID nineteen,
I felt it was safe to go ahead and become
a part of my family again. As time went on,
and after discussing my situation with more medical professionals, I
wasn't convinced about that negative COVID test. So I went

(42:44):
to get the anybody test. It was a blood draw
and it could see if your body had actually fought
off this virus, and low and behold, it came back positive.
I had had it. Luckily, nobody in my family sick.
In fact, my wife had the anybody test and hers

(43:04):
was negative. I don't know how that happened, but I'm
grateful that it did. There's still so much confusion about
this disease. My doctor told me that I probably have
some immunity, but who knows if it's going to last
for very long at all. Maybe it will get me
by until there's a vaccine. We just don't know. And

(43:28):
like everyone we interviewed here said, no one knows how
long social distancing and business shutdowns can last. But like
sh Tira said, I think it's important to be compassionate
with each other, to be patient, and to try as
best we can to keep each other safe. I hope

(43:50):
you all out there are taking care of yourselves and
the people around you. I know I am. Until next time,
stay safe, stay sane, and keep an eye out. This
for the wide release of Sworn Season two. Sworn is
a production of Tenderfoot TV and I Heart Media. Our

(44:11):
lead producer is Christina Dana. Executive producers are Payne Lindsay
and Donald Albright for Tenderfoot TV, Matt Frederick and Alex
Williams for I Heart Media, and myself Philip Holloway. Additional
production by Trevor Young, Mason Lindsay, Mike Rooney, Jamie Albright,
and Hallie beat On. Original music and sound designed by

(44:34):
Makeup and Vanity Set. Our theme song is Blood in
the Water by Layup. Show art and design is by
Trevor Eisler, Editing by Christina Dana, Mixing and mastering by
Mike Rooney and Cooper Skinner. Special thanks to the team
at I Heart Media, from U T a or In

(44:55):
Rosenbaum and Grace Royer, Ryan Nord and Matthew pap from
the North That Media and Marketing and Station sixteen. I'd
also like to extend a very personal and special thanks
to all of our contributors and guests who have helped
to make all of these episodes possible. You can find

(45:15):
Sworn on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at Sworn podcast and
follow me your host, Philip Halloway on Twitter at Phil
Holloway e s Q. Our website is Sworn podcast dot com,
and you can check out other Tenderfoot TV podcasts at
www dot tenderfoot dot tv. If you have questions or comments,

(45:39):
you can email us at Sworn at Tenderfoot dot tv
or leave us a voicemail at four zero four for
one zero zero four four one. As always, thanks for listening.
I met Phil years go when he worked at the

(46:00):
Cobb County District Attorney's office, and I thought Phil was
a complete dick. He uh, he was very, very difficult
to work with. Phil was no nonsense and we probably
should have hated each other, but years later we're still friends.
In fact, I was in his wedding
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