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Judge pondering request to unseal Belvin testimony

By Walter Geiger Judge Bill Fears agreed May 14 to take under advisement a petition by Atlanta attorney Charles D. Graham who seeks to unseal the grand jury testimony of former BPD officer Terry Belvin. Belvin was at the wheel of a city police cruiser when he struck and killed Justen Shanard Sullivan and Quenton Byrd at about 1 a.m. May 16, 2014. Graham is one of multiple attorneys representing Sullivan’s mother, Danita Taylor. Taylor has filed a wrongful death action against the city for in excess of $15 million. Belvin testified before the grand jury last December. Charges against him were no-billed and his testimony sealed. ’Generally, grand jury proceedings are secret. You want those testifying to be forthcoming. This court is a little hesitant to let grand jury testimony out to the public,’ Judge Fears said. ’This is basically a public records request. There is very little Georgia law on it,’ Graham countered. ’Is there a code section you can cite. I am the gate keeper and I am not sure I want to open that gate,’ Judge Fears countered. Graham noted that Belvin is not a party to the lawsuit. ‘The estate has a greater right to that statement,’ he added. District attorney Richard Milam said criminal court was not the proper venue in that Belvin is not criminally charged. He said Belvin’s statement was taken down and is available. Graham said he had asked 10-15 lawyers and none had heard of such an action. In the end, Judge Fears agreed to take the petition under advisement. ‘I’ll give you 30 days to find me some case law,’ he concluded.

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