"I'm not sure it's legal to describe how I feel. It's just almost unreal to me. I just cannot understand how that could happen," Cobb EMC member Dorsey Dodgen said.
All Deborah Allen wanted was for Brown to have his day in court.
"This is important to everyone," said Allen, who has been a Cobb EMC member since 1980. "I don't want to think Dwight Brown is a crook. Is he a visionary or a Visigoth? Now, we may never know."
Superior Court Judge Robert Flournoy III threw out the indictment Tuesday, ruling that it was handed down in a courtroom that was not open to the public. Per Georgia law, all indictments must be presented in an open courtroom. Brown's was handed down Jan. 6 in Cobb Superior Court Judge George Kreeger's courtroom in Cobb County's new courthouse on Haynes Street, which technically did not open until Jan. 10. Doors were locked and armed sheriff's deputies guarded the catwalk from the old courthouse to the newly constructed building. Media and others, however, were allowed access to the catwalk if they requested an escort.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes, who is representing Brown, called Flournoy's decision "eminently correct." Others, however, vehemently disagree.
"They did let people over there," co-op member Jack Landers said. "They are just using that as a ploy and making up an excuse to throw this thing out. I don't think that's a big enough to throw it out ... I'm really upset about it; all my friends are upset about it."
Landers said he believes since Barnes appointed Flournoy to the bench when he was governor, the judge should've recused himself from the case.
A person by the name Old Marietta wrote on the website of the Cherokee Tribune's sister paper, the Marietta Daily Journal: "So the Gubner appoints a judge who later rules in his favor? And a man accused of 31 crimes is denied his day in court to prove his innocence by a 'technicality?' Cobb's Elite can get 'er done for the privileged few."
Some, however, find Flournoy's decision correct and are happy that the indictment has been tossed out.
"It is high time this matter was put to rest. Dwight Brown is a man of integrity, a wonderful and generous family man, and has deserved none of what he has been dealt by the people who have been after him for whatever reason," a person by the name Teresa Knighten wrote. "Praise God. May it be finished and he be free to continue his good works."
A handful of others say they believe it was Kreeger who erred in wanting to hold court in his new chambers.
"The people running the courthouse should have told the judge, 'that cannot happen, sir.'" Allen said.
A person by the name Milton Frisch wrote: "The problem was 'showing off the new courthouse,' although they do feel entitled to their Taj Mahal ... Major league arrogance and stupidity. A judge and court administrator dropped the ball."
Kreeger, during a March 3 hearing in the matter, said the reason he had wanted to hold the grand jury proceedings in the new courthouse that day was so that the members of the grand jury could see the new building.
"The doors were open, anybody could come in, some of the TV folks were there. It seemed pretty open to me," Kreeger said March 3.
District Attorney Pat Head said he will appeal Flournoy's ruling to the state Court of Appeals. Head also has the option of trying to get another grand jury to re-indict Brown, he said.
Dodgen thinks that is the right move.
"It's more efficient to try to get it overturned, rather than appeal," he said.
Head said the decision not only impacts the Brown case, but also potentially thousands of others.
Head said there are many other hearings that are handled similarly - with escorts. For example, probation revocation hearings are held at the jail, Head said.
"And in order to do that, you have to be escorted," which also causes a delay, he said.
Flournoy cites throughout his ruling how J. Cameron Tribble, an attorney at the Barnes Law Group in Marietta, had difficulty entering the new courthouse and ultimately missed the indictment being handed down. Barnes had instructed his associate to go to the courtroom that day and hear the presentments.
Flournoy wrote that Tribble went to the main entrance to the new courthouse and it was locked. He then went to the old building and approached the catwalk, but deputies wouldn't let him cross, Flournoy wrote. He was ultimately allowed access after calling the court administrator, Tom Charron, to escort him. When Tribble finally got to the courtroom, the indictment had been returned moments before.
Brown was charged with multiple counts of theft and racketeering. The grand jury indictment alleged that Brown used Cobb EMC as a piggybank to fund various operations and activities of Cobb Energy without approval by the cooperative's members, as required in EMC's bylaws.
Barnes, however, says, "all actions taken at Cobb EMC were approved by the best lawyers and consultants in the country ... There simply is no crime here."