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Defendant-Testifies-in-Arbery-Case

Defendant Testifies in Arbery Case

Attorney Page Pate, a criminal defense attorney who is also recognized as a legal analyst, continues to follow the trial of the 3 men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia in 2020. Page has been contacted by numerous media outlets to discuss the case and the trial, which is taking place in Glynn County, Georgia.

Here, CNN and Page discuss the trial testimony of Travis McMichael, the man who shot Mr. Arbery. Page is asked how Mr. McMichael’s self-defense claim may be impacted by the fact that he had the gun and went after Mr. Arbery first. Page explains that “it’s going to be difficult to prove that self-defense is an appropriate defense here. I think it’s gonna be difficult to prove that they had a legal justification for citizen’s arrest.” Page also comments on Mr. McMichael’s testimony overall and how the prosecutor handled it, saying that he thinks Travis McMichael “did a very good job on the witness stand. I think he was well-prepared, I think this was well-rehearsed, and I think he caught the prosecutor flat-footed. I do not think she was expecting him to take the stand, and I think her initial cross-examination was weak. It was unfocused. She has got to come back this morning and focus in on the key points. Your training and experience? What training and experience? Did you really have a reason to believe that Ahmaud Arbery had committed a felony offense? She has got to be aggressive. Otherwise, this jury’s gonna be left with the impression that this was a reasonable person doing something to protect the neighborhood, because right now, given the makeup of this jury, I think that’s what they believe. So she has a huge challenge ahead of her today.”

Page is also asked about the State of Georgia’s Citizen’s Arrest Law, which was in force at the time of Mr. Arbery’s murder but has since been repealed, and whether it changes the standard when the jury considers self-defense in this case. Page tells CNN that “The citizen’s arrest law never talked about deadly force one way or the other.” He explains that the Citizen’s Arrest Law was “a two-step process” and says that “If Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael had a legitimate legal reason to pursue Ahmaud Arbery, if they were conducting a legitimate citizen’s arrest, in other words, if they either saw him commit a crime, or had direct knowledge that he committed a felony, then they could pursue him and detain him. And if they were legally doing that, and there was a struggle, and Travis McMichael felt himself in imminent danger of being killed by Ahmaud Arbery, then yes, he could use self-defense. But those are two huge obstacles that the defense will have to convince the jury, that they were legally authorized to take.”

Regarding these two obstacles, CNN asks Page why he thinks it would be such a huge obstacle to say that the Defendants were in fact making a citizen’s arrest. Page explains that “if the judge instructs the jury at the end of the trial, like I expect him to, that a citizen’s arrest is not legal unless you actually see the person commit a crime, or you know that this was a felony offense… So, it’s kind of a two-part analysis as well. And there is insufficient evidence right now. I mean, we’ve seen the videos, we’ve seen surveillance, we’ve heard from neighbors. He was hanging around this house under construction, but no one accuses him of committing a crime. So even if they saw him that day in the house, they didn’t have a legal basis to pursue him for citizen’s arrest.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Erica: Also with us now, criminal defense attorney Page Pate. Page, good to have you back with us this morning. We heard a little bit from Martin about what we heard on the stand yesterday. Travis McMichael, as we know, says he was acting in self defense. I want to play a little bit more of one of the exchanges.

Travis: I didn’t know where I was at, but I knew that he was on me. I knew that I was losing this. I knew that if I was getting tripped, if I would have tripped, or if he would have got a lucky strike on my head, or if I would have have lost that grip on that shotgun, that I would have been shot or I would have been in serious trouble at that point. I knew that he was overpowering me. But I didn’t know which direction or what mechanics he was doing to overpower me.

Erica: So, Page, Ahmaud Arbery isn’t alive to tell us how he felt in that moment or the moments leading up to it, but we do know is he didn’t start this encounter. So, when we look at the facts here, the fact that Travis McMichael went after Arbery first, and had that gun, how does that impact a self defense claim?

Page: Erica, I think it’s going to be difficult to prove that self defense is an appropriate defense here. I think it’s gonna be difficult to prove that they had a legal justification for citizen’s arrest. But I think Travis McMichael did a very good job on the witness stand. I think he was well-prepared, I think this was well-rehearsed, and I think he caught the prosecutor flat-footed. I do not think she was expecting him to take the stand, and I think her initial cross-examination was weak. It was unfocused. She has got to come back this morning and focus in on the key points. Your training and experience? What training and experience? Did you really have a reason to believe that Ahmaud Arbery had committed a felony offense? She has got to be aggressive. Otherwise, this jury’s gonna be left with the impression that this was a reasonable person doing something to protect the neighborhood, because right now, given the makeup of this jury, I think that’s what they believe. So she has a huge challenge ahead of her today.

Jim: Remarkable analysis. Central to this, of course, is the question of the legal standard for self defense. And I wonder, does Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law, which has since been largely repealed, but was the law of the land at the time, does it change the standard as jurors approach this question of self defense?

Page: I mean, that’s a great question, Jim. The citizen’s arrest law never talked about deadly force one way or the other. But it is a two-step process. If Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael had a legitimate legal reason to pursue Ahmaud Arbery, if they were conducting a legitimate citizen’s arrest, in other words, if they either saw him commit a crime, or had direct knowledge that he committed a felony, then they could pursue him and detain him. And if they were legally doing that, and there was a struggle, and Travis McMichael felt himself in imminent danger of being killed by Ahmaud Arbery, then yes, he could use self defense. But those are two huge obstacles that the defense will have to convince the jury, that they were legally authorized to take.

Erica: And just weigh in on that, if you could, dig a little deeper on that point for us. In terms of that being a huge obstacle, why in this case do you think it is such a huge obstacle for them to say, “Yes, we were…this was legitimately a citizen’s arrest?”

Page: Because if the judge instructs the jury at the end of the trial, like I expect him to, that a citizen’s arrest is not legal unless you actually see the person commit a crime, or you know that this was a felony offense… So, it’s kind of a two-part analysis as well. And there is insufficient evidence right now. I mean, we’ve seen the videos, we’ve seen surveillance, we’ve heard from neighbors. He was hanging around this house under construction, but no one accuses him of committing a crime. So even if they saw him that day in the house, they didn’t have a legal basis to pursue him for citizen’s arrest.

Jim: The question of probable cause there. Page Pate, great to have you on. Appreciate you sharing your experience.

Page: Thank you.

Criminal Charges Against Travis Scott

Lawsuit Filed Against Travis Scott and Concert Promoters for Astroworld Tragedy

Attorney Page Pate joined CNN Newsroom to discuss the lawsuit filed against Travis Scott and the concert promoters for the tragic deaths that occurred at the Astroworld festival in Houston.

Page thinks these are the major legal issues:

  1. What is the potential civil liability of the venue, Travis Scott, and the other people associated with the event (third party security, organizers, etc)? Anyone who had responsibility for ensuring security, crowd control, and onsite medical care could be liable to the families of those who died and were injured, likely for many millions of dollars. All the liable parties have insurance and they will be expected to pay. I understand that Travis Scott has been sued before for injuries like this at his events, primarily due to him encouraging the “rage.”
  2. What about criminal charges? Putting aside the question of whether the guard was injected with something (which is clearly a crime), organizers, promoters, and Scott himself could potentially be criminally charged with either manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide under Texas law. The analysis will depend on what they knew, and what they did to address the surge as it was happening. Neither of these charges require an intent to kill or hurt anyone. It’s about being reckless or extremely negligent.

TRANSCRIPT:

Pamela: And Houston Texas Police have launched a criminal investigation to the death of eight people at the AstroWorld Music Festival.

The crushing sea of fans surge toward the stage on Friday night as rapper Travis Scott started to perform. Many fans trapped in the vise-like squeeze and unable to move as the air was squeezed out of their lungs, some collapsed and were trampled. Here you can see some people reaching into the crowd trying to rescue others by pulling them over the barricade to safety. On CNN a short time ago, we spoke to one woman who was grateful to be alive.

Dana: It was just terrifying is the only word I have to describe it. Everyone around us was just trying to take each individual breath and there was just no air left for anyone to breathe. We were too closely compact. Everyone was too pushed up against each other. There was just nowhere to go and no air to breathe. I just started screaming, “Help, help. Please help me I can’t breathe.” And finally, some people around me told me they were going to pick me up and they just started saying crowd surf her to the medics.

Pamela: Joining me now, Criminal and Defense and Constitutional Law Attorney, Page Pate. Page, good to see you. So we are just getting word in the past few minutes that a $1 million lawsuit has been filed against Travis Scott, Live Nation, and concert promoter, ScoreMore, following this tragedy. Surely, more will follow. What is the potential civil liability for these parties?

Page: Well, Pamela, I think potentially these parties are liable for many millions of dollars, not just $1 million. In a case like this, I think it’s going to be somewhat difficult to prove civil liability on behalf of Travis Scott himself, although he was clearly, I think, getting the crowd into this, engaging them even when he should have had noticed that it was a very dangerous situation. The concert promoter, I think, is also being targeted for civil liability, Live Nation, anyone who had any responsibility for either ensuring security, crowd control, or on-site medical treatment and evaluation could potentially be liable and they should expect that. I mean, this was a situation that perhaps you could have expected some sort of crowd interaction like this but once it happens, you need to be able to take control. This is not the first time they’ve had an incident at a Travis Scott event. They should have been ready for it. They should have expected it and if they’re not, they’re going to be liable.

Pamela: You mentioned Travis Scott’s behavior. He has a history of encouraging chaos at his shows, daring fans to rush past security barriers. Could he be criminally liable for egging fans into dangerous behavior?

Page: I think he can, Pamela. I don’t think this is the first time that someone has suggested that he could be criminally charged. But I think in the past, it’s been more of, “Okay, this is disorderly conduct. This is some sort of a misdemeanor.” But people died in Houston as a result of what happened at that festival, at that concert. And under Texas law where this occurred, if you are reckless and cause someone’s death, you have committed manslaughter. If you are criminally negligent and cause someone’s death, that’s criminally negligent homicide. Those are serious charges that carry serious prison time. Now, the investigation is still early. Who knows what the facts are? But we all know a couple of things, one, it was a very dangerous situation, he should have been aware of it and yet he continued to egg people on. That’s negligent.

Pamela: He posted on his Instagram and his Instagram story talking about this, just saying how horrible he felt, that he’s trying to, you know, help authorities, that had he known the extent of it, he would have stopped everything. And, you know, you’ve heard from performers that say, “Look, it can get rowdy at these concerts. Sometimes they…people pass out because they’re overheated,” and so forth. And they may not understand the extent of it. Could that be a defense for him?

Page: It can certainly be a defense up to a point. Yes, when you go to a Travis Scott concert, I assume you know you’re going to be in a situation where there are crowds of people who get rowdy, who get inspired by the music, and who may take it a step too far. But the issue here is once that starts to happen, you have a responsibility to do something and you don’t wait until someone dies. You don’t wait until people are trampled and then say, “I’m very sorry. The insurance company will pay you off.” No, once this happens, you have a responsibility. This cannot be a surprise to Travis Scott based on the behavior of the crowd and based on his prior shows.

Pamela: All right, Page Pate. Thank you so much. We’ll be right back.

Page: Thank you.

Opening-Statements-in-Arbery-Case

Opening Statements in Arbery Case

Pate, Johnson & Church has been representing people in the State of Georgia who have been charged with serious crimes for over 25 years. Attorney Page Pate has been closely following the case involving the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia and has been contacted numerous times by the media to provide his opinions and analysis of the ongoing case and the trial of the 3 men charged with the murder of Mr. Arbery.

CNN contacted Page to discuss the opening statements made by the lawyers for the defendants and the State of Georgia during the trial. Page is asked which side he thinks made the best argument in their opening statements. Page responds that he thinks “both sides started out with very strong opening statements,” and further explains that “we knew coming into this trial what the prosecution would say. They would focus on the video. They would focus on the fact that there’s absolutely no evidence that Ahmad Arbery was committing any crime. They would focus on what the McMichaels said there at the scene, all to support the prosecution’s case that this was cold-blooded murder. But what we heard today, really for the first time, from the defense was a very different narrative of what happened. They tried to create some doubt that, “Hey, Mr. Arbery was in the neighborhood before.” Maybe, at least from the McMichaels’ standpoint, he was committing a crime. So they were trying to present at least some alternative to suggest that their clients were justified not just in chasing them down but then approaching him, confronting him, and ultimately shooting him.”

Next, Page is asked what the impact on the trial may be of the Judge’s ruling that the defense attorneys cannot discuss Mr. Arbery’s probation status and that the prosecutor can show the Confederate flag vanity plate that was on Defendant Travis McMichael’s truck. Page says that he thinks “the probation issue is very important, especially the way it turned out that this jury was selected and seated.” Page also comments that “we’ve got 11 white people on this jury, 1 African-American. I think the idea from the defense side of showing that Mr. Arbery was on probation, maybe that gave him a reason to try to run through the neighborhood. Don’t completely understand the argument, but I know the defense wanted it. On the other side, I don’t know with this jury that this Confederate flag license plate is going to be all that significant. Again, we’re talking about a majority…almost exclusively white jury in Glynn County, and, look, there are Confederate flags on cars in Glynn County. This isn’t the only one. So I don’t know how strong that evidence will be or the state. I don’t know if it’ll change the dynamic, again, given this jury. It is all about the jury in these cases, especially this one.”

Mr. Arbery’s mother avoided watching the video of the murder of her son for 18 months, but finally watched it in the courtroom during the trial. Regarding the video, Page says “It’s incredibly difficult, and it’s hard to imagine. And not only is she going through it personally and with her family, his father has also been at the trial. It’s playing out in front of the community and it’s playing out across the world, and I can’t imagine the pain. But I think the family must appreciate, at least in some way, that there is a video, because, Don, you and I wouldn’t be talking about this case if there was no video…These people would have never been prosecuted if there was no video. So it’s painful, it’s disturbing, but it’s necessary if these cases are going to be prosecuted.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Don: Opening arguments underway in the murder trial of three white men in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. The 25-year-old black man was shot in February of 2020 while he was out jogging. An emotional day in court today, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, crying when she saw the full video of her son’s shooting and, again, as police bodycam showed her son’s body on the ground.

Joining me now to discuss, criminal defense attorney Page Pate. Page, thank you for joining us. Wow. I mean, it’s…I can’t even imagine. I don’t think any of us can imagine. I appreciate you helping us out with this. The prosecution are laying out their case today outlining what led up to the shooting and why Arbery was running away from the defendant. Listen.

Linda: How do you know Mr. Ahmaud Arbery was under attack by strangers with intent to kill him? Because Greg McMichael told the police this, “Stop or I’ll blow your head off.” That’s what he said to Mr. Arbery. Because he wanna make sure Mr. Arbery knew Greg McMichael was not playing.

Don: So the defense is arguing that the defendants thought that they were protecting their neighborhood, Page, and acting in self-defense. Which side made the better argument today, you think?

Atty. Pate: Well, Don, I will have to admit that I think both sides started out with very strong opening statements. I mean, we knew coming into this trial what the prosecution would say. They would focus on the video. They would focus on the fact that there’s absolutely no evidence that Ahmad Arbery was committing any crime. They would focus on what the McMichaels said there at the scene, all to support the prosecution’s case that this was cold-blooded murder. But what we heard today, really for the first time, from the defense was a very different narrative of what happened. They tried to create some doubt that, “Hey, Mr. Arbery was in the neighborhood before.” Maybe, at least from the McMichaels’ standpoint, he was committing a crime. So they were trying to present at least some alternative to suggest that their clients were justified not just in chasing them down but then approaching him, confronting him, and ultimately shooting him.

Don: I mean, there’s so much to unpack here. I mean, number one, they’re not law enforcement, and number two, what gives them the right to do it? They could have just called police. But anyway, I digress. The judge, I think it’s important to mention the judge ruling on two key motions in this trial today, ruling that the defense will not be allowed to discuss Arbery’s probation status and that the prosecution can show the photos of Travis McMichael’s truck with that Confederate flag vanity plate on it. How could this potentially impact this case, Page?

Atty. Pate: Well, I think the probation issue is very important, especially the way it turned out that this jury was selected and seated. I mean, as you know, we’ve got 11 white people on this jury, 1 African-American. I think the idea from the defense side of showing that Mr. Arbery was on probation, maybe that gave him a reason to try to run through the neighborhood. Don’t completely understand the argument, but I know the defense wanted it. On the other side, I don’t know with this jury that this Confederate flag license plate is going to be all that significant. Again, we’re talking about a majority…almost exclusively white jury in Glynn County, and, look, there are Confederate flags on cars in Glynn County. This isn’t the only one. So I don’t know how strong that evidence will be or the state. I don’t know if it’ll change the dynamic, again, given this jury. It is all about the jury in these cases, especially this one.

Don: Yeah. But all about the video, too, Page, in this case. I mean, that is…you know, that’s probably the key thing here other than the jury. Let’s talk about the mom. We saw the mom, you know, breaking down when she saw that video for the first time and then, you know, saw her son laying there on the ground. The mother, her name is Wanda Cooper-Jones, explaining to reporters today why she stayed in the room while video of the shooting was being played. Listen.

Wanda: I decided to remain in so I can get familiar with what happened to Ahmaud the last minutes of his life. I avoided the video for the last 18 months, and I thought it was time to get familiar with what happened to Ahmaud in the last minutes of his life. So I’m glad I was able to stay strong and stay in there. That’s the first time I saw the video in the entirety.

Don: So we saw, with the family of George Floyd, how these trials can affect families who had to watch the evidence play out over and over, right? And now, she’s going through very similar thing.

Atty. Pate: It’s incredibly difficult, and it’s hard to imagine. And not only is she going through it personally and with her family, his father has also been at the trial. It’s playing out in front of the community and it’s playing out across the world, and I can’t imagine the pain. But I think the family must appreciate, at least in some way, that there is a video, because, Don, you and I wouldn’t be talking about this case if there was no video.

Don: Right.

Atty. Pate: These people would have never been prosecuted if there was no video. So it’s painful, it’s disturbing, but it’s necessary if these cases are going to be prosecuted.

Don: Yeah, very well stated. Look, in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, we are hearing from more witnesses, like journalist Richie McGinnis, about what he saw before Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum. Listen to this, Page.

Man: Did you ever see a weapon on Mr. Rosenbaum?

Richie: I did not.

Man: Never saw a gun on Mr. Rosenbaum?

Richie: I did not.

Man: Never saw him have a knife?

Richie: Nope.

Man: Never saw him have a club, or a bat, or a chain, or anything like that?

Richie: I just saw the bag that was thrown. That was it.

Don: So another witness testifying that Rosenbaum was belligerent that night. What stands out to you from what you heard today?

Atty. Pate: Well, belligerent but not a threat. I think that was very important that came across in that witness’s testimony that, you know, he was there, he was also there for the same reason that Kyle Rittenhouse says he was there to protect businesses and the community. And even though this person may have been acting out, may have seemed to be odd and stranger, he did not present a threat, certainly not a threat that justified the use of deadly force.

Don: Yeah. Well, Page, we’ll be watching both of these trials, very interesting ones, and you’ll be here to help us out. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Atty. Pate: Thank you, Don.

Jury Selection in Arbery Case

Jury Selection in Arbery Case

Pate, Johnson & Church has been representing clients facing serious criminal charges in state and federal court for over 25 years. Attorney Page Pate often serves as a legal analyst to various media outlets that contact him to discuss significant cases being reported on.

In this case, CBS46 Atlanta contacted Page to discuss jury selection in Glynn County, Georgia for the trial of the men accused of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia in 2020.

Page is first asked about the legal decision made to not request that the case be moved to another jurisdiction for trial, and whether or not it will be challenging to find a fair and impartial jury in the community that Mr. Arbery and the defendants lived in. Page says that based on what he has seen so far, “it’s going to be pretty difficult.” He further explains that “…in Glynn County, the Clark’s office has sent summons out to 1,000 different people. They had 600 people show up in different groups today and they’re questioning them 20 people at a time, number one, to see if they can find people who still do not have an opinion about the case. I think the defense would like to stay in Glynn County if at all possible because their clients have ties here, people know them. And ultimately, the judge is not looking for someone who’s never heard of the case because if you try to do that here, really anywhere, it’s gonna be hard to find. What the judge is looking for are people who have not made up their mind. And I think with that many jury summons going out, we’re gonna be able to pick an unbiased jury for this case.”

Regarding the video of Mr. Arbery’s murder, Page is asked how important that video will be to the outcome of the case. Page says that he doesn’t believe that there “would be a case without that video,” and says he thinks “it was clear that the people who were in charge of the investigation at the time before the video came out, they were not gonna bring any criminal charges. I don’t think we would be here but for that video. The video is clearly going to be critical evidence in the case. I think the defense is going to try to deal with it by trying to explain that their clients were engaged in a citizen’s arrest. But it’s gonna be really tough, I think, for the jury to get past what they’re seeing in that video and not feel some connection to Ahmaud Arbery and feel very bad about the tragic circumstances that ended his life.”

In addition to the charges in Glynn County, Georgia, the men accused of Mr. Arbery’s murder will also face charges in federal court, as did the men accused of the murder of George Floyd. Page is asked if he thinks this sets a precedent for future incidents of black people being killed by the police or other individuals. Page thinks that it could, and says he thinks based on the actions of the current administration and Attorney General Merrick Garland, we are seeing “a much more aggressive campaign to charge people with hate crimes and to prosecute them. I don’t think this is one of cases where the feds are coming in as a fall back. If they’re not convicted in the state case, we’ll try them in the federal case. The federal trial has already been set for February and I think it’s gonna go forward whether these people are convicted here in Glynn County or not.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Tracye: Jury selection is currently under way in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial. The 25-year-old unarmed black man was shot and killed last year in South Georgia. Three white men are charged with Arbery’s murder. Joining us now is Page Pate, an attorney with more than 25 years of experience in criminal defense and civil litigation.

Rick: We’re glad you’re with us, Page. And we look forward to tapping into your expertise during this trial. Let’s start with the decision not to move the trial out of South Georgia. A lot of people had thought that there might be a request for that. How difficult will it be to find a fair and impartial jury in the community where Arbery as well as his accused killers lived?

Page: Well, I think, based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s going to be pretty difficult. But here in Glynn County, the Clark’s office has sent summons out to 1,000 different people. They had 600 people show up in different groups today and they’re questioning them 20 people at a time, number one, to see if they can find people who still do not have an opinion about the case. I think the defense would like to stay in Glynn County if at all possible because their clients have ties here, people know them. And ultimately, the judge is not looking for someone who’s never heard of the case because if you try to do that here, really anywhere, it’s gonna be hard to find. What the judge is looking for are people who have not made up their mind. And I think with that many jury summons going out, we’re gonna be able to pick an unbiased jury for this case.

Tracye: And Page, we were just showing some video there, a lot of the video that many of us saw that really sparked this investigation and sparked the arrest, the video shot by William “Roodie” Bryan. How pivotal will that piece of video be in this case? And it’s hard to imagine how different this case would be without that video.

Page: Tracye, I don’t think there would be a case without that video. I think it was clear that the people who were in charge of the investigation at the time before the video came out, they were not gonna bring any criminal charges. I don’t think we would be here but for that video. The video is clearly going to be critical evidence in the case. I think the defense is going to try to deal with it by trying to explain that their clients were engaged in a citizen’s arrest. But it’s gonna be really tough, I think, for the jury to get past what they’re seeing in that video and not feel some connection to Ahmaud Arbery and feel very bad about the tragic circumstances that ended his life.

Rick: We think about the George Floyd case, Page, and regardless of what happens in Glynn County, Arbery’s accused killers, just like Floyd’s, will also face federal charges. Does this set a precedent for future trials involving black people who are killed by police or people taking the law into their own hands?

Page: Well, it could, Rick. I think what we’re seeing from the current administration, especially the Attorney General Merrick Garland, is a much more aggressive campaign to charge people with hate crimes and to prosecute them. I don’t think this is one of cases where the feds are coming in as a fall back. If they’re not convicted in the state case, we’ll try them in the federal case. The federal trial has already been set for February and I think it’s gonna go forward whether these people are convicted here in Glynn County or not.

Tracye: Page Pate, our CBS 46 legal analyst. Page, thank you. Always a wealth of knowledge and we look forward to you guiding us through this trial.

Rick: Thanks, Page. Still ahead at 5:00.

Legal-Challenges to Vaccine Mandates

Legal Challenges to Vaccine Mandates?

Page Pate is a recognized as a criminal defense and constitutional attorney, and he often serves as a legal analyst to various media outlets. When seeking a legal opinion or analysis of important issues and cases, the media will contact Page to discuss.

In this case, 11 Alive News interviewed Page regarding Covid vaccine mandates that are forthcoming for employers with 100 employees or more. President Biden has used OSHA and the Labor Department to mandate that these employers require their employees be vaccinated or take weekly Covid tests. Page explains that “there’s already a basis for the order” because “OSHA does have the ability to require businesses, especially large companies to put in place safety regulations, things that will protect the health and security of the people who work there.” However, Page does expect there to be legal challenges of the mandate and says “The employer may decide to file an action against OSHA, ask a judge to say that this particular requirement you’re imposing on us to make us then require our employees to get vaccines or get tested, you can’t do that.”

Page is asked if the individual employees can sue over the mandate and he explains that people can’t sue over it, particularly in Georgia, because it is an at-will employment state. Likewise, Page says that Georgia’s Governor, Brian Kemp, also can’t sue over the mandate because “He doesn’t have standing to file a lawsuit in court like the business would because OSHA’s not requiring the governor of Georgia’s staff to go get vaccinated. The requirement is placed on private businesses.” However, Page acknowledges that “anyone can file a lawsuit. It’s just whether or not they’ll succeed,” and says “Everybody’s gonna be suing everybody else. And at the end of the day, some judge will have to sort through that.”

TRANSCRIPT:

President Biden: …patient but our patience is wearing thin and the refusal has cost all of us.

Man: President Biden this evening trying to get Americans to get vaccinated. The president unveiling his six-point plan to stop the spread of COVID. At the top of the list, vaccine requirements impacting as many as 100 million Americans in an effort to boost vaccinations. The new rule mandates all employers with more than 100 workers get vaccinated or test weekly for the virus. So how will the president’s plan work legally? Here’s Hope Ford who went to an expert.

Hope: The way the Biden administration is trying to enforce the rule is through the Labor Department and OSHA. 11Alive legal expert Page Pate says there’s already a basis for the order.

Page: OSHA does have the ability to require businesses, especially large companies to put in place safety regulations, things that will protect the health and security of the people who work there.

Hope: Georgia-based businesses like Home Depot praised the requirement in a joint statement with other large companies. But Pate anticipates legal challenges.

Page: The employer may decide to file an action against OSHA, ask a judge to say that this particular requirement you’re imposing on us to make us then require our employees to get vaccines or get tested, you can’t do that.

Hope: What about employees? Could they sue their employer for firing them for refusing the vaccine or weekly testing?

Page: You can’t sue over that, especially not in Georgia. We’re an at-will employment state.

Hope: And what about governors? Governor Kemp tweeting he’ll take every legal option against the order. Pate thinks that’ll be difficult.

Page: He doesn’t have standing to file a lawsuit in court like the business would because OSHA’s not requiring the governor of Georgia’s staff to go get vaccinated. The requirement is placed on private businesses.

Hope: And Pate says the governor could ask the attorney general to file some declaratory judgment action in federal court but he doesn’t think there’s a legal basis for the governor to do so. Still, Pate says anyone can file a lawsuit. It’s just whether or not they’ll succeed.

Page: Everybody’s gonna be suing everybody else. And at the end of the day, some judge will have to sort through that.

Man: Attorney Pate added that he thinks big companies may see pushing back on the requirement and filing a lawsuit as a public relations nightmare. He thinks that medium-sized companies would be the ones more willing to change the order because this is all brand new. It’s possible a judge will see the order as a step too far.

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