A Cobb County Superior Court judge has dismissed the criminal case against Jessica Colotl, the Kennesaw State University graduate whose 2010 arrest for a minor traffic violation sparked debate about illegal immigrants in public colleges.
Defense lawyer Jerome Lee today told the Associated Press that Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley granted a request to toss a felony false swearing charge against Colotl.
As recently as September, she refused to do so even though Colotl completed a pretrial diversion program to avoid conviction for lying to authorities about her address during that 2010 arrest.
At the time, Staley said Colotl's misdemeanor conviction for driving without a valid license “consistently disqualified entry into the Cobb County diversion program. The court believes all similarly situated defendants should be treated in the same manner.”
But ex-Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head in October provided Staley with proof that Colotl's entry in the program was "neither unique nor remarkable for a young person with no history of violence or aggression, and whose sole misdemeanor conviction is that for a traffic offense."
People arrested and charged with DUI, speeding and other traffic offenses have been admitted to the program, Head said. One person in the program at the time had more than one felony prosecution pending, he said.
Colotl's legal ordeal began in March 2010 when she was pulled over for blocking the traffic flow in a campus parking lot, charged with driving without a license and turned over to immigration authorities.
Then a junior political science student at Kennesaw State, her case fueled the debate about whether illegal immigrants take seats in public colleges away from lawful residents.
Kennesaw State officials and immigration advocates rushed to her defense. Colotl's first one-year deferment allowed her to complete her studies, while the second allowed her to stay in the country long enough to attend her graduation in May 2011.
- Oct. 17, 2012: Cobb District Attorney Brings Up Judge's Sister in Colotl Response
- Sept. 30, 2012: Judge: Felony Charge Against Jessica Colotl Stands
- May 8, 2012: Colotl Allowed to Stay Another Year
- Oct. 8, 2011: Negotiations to Be Renewed in Jessica Colotl Case
- May 18, 2011: Voices: Cobb’s D.A. King Applauds H.B. 87
- May 11, 2011:
- Nov. 30, 2010: Is Moderation on Illegal Immigration Impossible?