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Defense attorneys say APS cheating scandal evidence 'tainted'

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ATLANTA -

Defense attorneys in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating case say state investigators pressured educators to get information.

Attorney Brian Steel, who represents former Kennedy Middle School Principal Dr. Lucious Brown, said that former Superintendent Beverly Hall issued an ultimatum ordering employees to talk or face losing their jobs. Steel said that order should force the judge to throw out the 65-count cheating indictment.  Hall's attorney has joined Steel on the issue. The defense attorneys contend all the testimony in the state report by investigators Mike Bowers and Bob Wilson was coerced.

"One commentator has stated that if the tainted evidence was presented to the grand jury, the indictment will be dismissed," Steel said. "When tainted evidence is introduced at trail, the defendant is entitled to a new trial."

Steel says Bowers and investigators Wilson and Richard Hyde illegally wore two hats: one hat to compel teachers to cooperate with the cheating investigation, and a second hat to help prosecute criminal charges against the same educators.

Bowers says the cheating scandal is the worst mess he has seen in 40 years. Bowers admonished Steel for misinterpreting Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard's role.

"He didn't get involved at all. Period," Bowers said.

Also on Monday, the judge ruled Howard's office can remain on the case. Another defense attorney had asked the court to remove Howard because she believed his wife was too close the case.

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