The Georgia Supreme Court threw out the conviction of former DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis in an opinion issued Nov. 30, ruling Ellis did not receive a fair trial.

Ellis was convicted in July 2015 of perjury and attempting to extort a campaign contribution from a county vendor. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Gov. Nathan Deal suspended Ellis from the county CEO position and Lee May took over as interim CEO.

In the 30-page opinion, the state Supreme Court states,“We find that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to find Ellis guilty of the two charges upon which he was ultimately convicted – one count of perjury and one count of attempt to commit theft by extortion – beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Although the state Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that Ellis’ constitutional rights to due process and equal protection were not violated, “we must nevertheless reverse Ellis’ convictions based on certain evidentiary errors that occurred at his trial. Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part to allow for a retrial on the charges of criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion and perjury,’” the opinion states.

He served eight months of his sentence and was released in March.

The DeKalb DA’s office issued a statement to the decision:

“While we respect the decision of the Georgia Supreme Court, we are obviously disappointed. The case has been remanded back to the DeKalb County Superior Court for retrial, however the decision to try the case again will rest with the incoming district attorney [Sherry Boston]. We appreciate that the Court noted that there was sufficient evidence to support convictions for perjury and criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion. Our office is assessing whether or not to file a motion for reconsideration.”

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Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.