In a 10-minute hearing, Cobb County State Court Judge Kathryn Tanksley ruled that Colotl must serve the remainder of her sentence, which includes three days in jail, of which roughly 10 hours remained; 12 months’ probation, of which 11 months and 27 days remain; about $1,400 in fines and fees; and 20 hours of community service, to be completed in the first three months of her probation.
Colotl was convicted of driving without a license but cleared of impeding the flow of traffic, both misdemeanors, on Nov. 11, 2010, and was sentenced a few days later.
Her attorney, Jerome Lee, appealed her conviction, but the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld her conviction and the Georgia Supreme Court later declined to hear the case.
Lee asked if Colotl could serve her remaining jail time in court on Monday, but Tanksley said she could not. Colotl was immediately taken into custody and booked into the Cobb County Jail, where she was held until 8:20 p.m.
Lee said he was disappointed with the hearing but is glad it’s over.
“She’s a strong young woman, but this is the end of it,” Lee said after the hearing. “It’s unfortunate that politics have dictated the outcome, but Judge Tanksley has been infinitely fair with us.”
Lee said Colotl’s case has been going on for years because judges are bowing to voters’ demands.
“They are elected officials … and their constituents feel very strongly about this issue, even though with the recent executive order from the president, this issue is dead,” he said. “There will be no more deportations for college kids or ‘Dreamers.’”
Lee said Tanksley and Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley, who is presiding over Colotl’s felony case, serve a constituency that cares a “great deal” about his client’s case for reasons he doesn’t understand.
“While both judges are judges, they are also politicians, so they have to do what their constituents want them to do,” he said.
Lee said the case would have been over long ago if it hadn’t involved Colotl.
“It would have been dismissed when she got the license,” he said. “I can pull a hundred of my cases, but it’s just this one for some reason, once it got rolling, it became a press issue, everybody started focusing on it and suddenly it became something more.”
Lee said the courts are playing “silly games.”
“The rest of the world is racing ahead, and we need to figure out a way to resolve these kind of things in a more expeditious and more transparent sort of way,” he said. “It’s just been disappointing … especially when there are such larger issues to deal with.”
Lee said Staley is still “sitting” on a dismissal order for Colotl’s pretrial diversion program in regards to felony charges for lying to the sheriff’s office about her address when arrested in 2010, but Staley said she has not received that paperwork.
“I’m not sitting on anything,” Staley said. “(Lee) may be confused. There was an order submitted, and that was the one that I told (District Attorney Pat Head and Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren) to go back to square one (on Oct. 7, 2011), but I’m not aware of another order. There is no diversion order sitting on my desk.”
However, Head said the order was delivered to her.
“For her to say she has nothing on her desk is somewhat disingenuous,” he said. “My assistant tendered a Nolle Prosequi to the judge in open court several months ago. The Judge said she was taking it under advisement and so far has done nothing with it. I have heard nothing else from her.”
Lee said Colotl now lives in Gwinnett County with either her aunt or sister and is working as a clerk. She moved out of Cobb County shortly after the court proceedings for her case began in 2010.
Colotl, who was brought into the country by her parents as a child, was arrested on charges of driving without a license following a traffic stop in March 2010 and was found to be in the country illegally. She was turned over to immigration authorities and nearly deported. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement has repeatedly deferred action on her case, allowing her to finish her studies at Kennesaw State University.