Bill Rankin

Senior legal affairs reporter

Bill Rankin joined the AJC in 1989, three years after his father, Jim Rankin, retired from the paper after 26 years. For most of his time at the AJC, Bill has covered state and federal courts, specializing in civil litigation, criminal justice and the death penalty. Beginning in 2015, Bill began hosting the AJC’s “Breakdown” podcast. The podcast’s sixth season, “A Jury of His Peers,” cohosted with AJC editor Kevin Riley, won the American Bar Association’s 2018 Silver Gavel Award.

Latest from Bill Rankin

When is a fatal overdose a crime?
 Georgia Supreme Court justices on Tuesday talked about passing joints to one another down the bench, handing out marijuana brownies and even lacing a beer with drugs. They were, of course, speaking hypothetically. But the banter sets the stage for what may be a precedent-setting ruling defining when a fatal overdose becomes a crime. At issue...

Posted: 22 hours ago

Georgia Supreme Court justices on Tuesday talked about passing joints to one another down the bench, handing out marijuana brownies and even lacing a beer with drugs. They were, of course, speaking hypothetically. But the banter sets the stage for what may be a precedent-setting ruling defining when a fatal overdose becomes a crime. At issue...
Supreme Court declines to hear ‘racist juror’ appeal in Georgia case
 The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by Georgia inmate Keith Tharpe who contends a juror’s racist views helped send Tharpe to death row. Georgia can now set a new execution date for Tharpe, who was convicted in 1991 of killing his sister-in-law. It’s unclear when they will do so.  The high court&rsquo...

Posted: 2 days ago

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by Georgia inmate Keith Tharpe who contends a juror’s racist views helped send Tharpe to death row. Georgia can now set a new execution date for Tharpe, who was convicted in 1991 of killing his sister-in-law. It’s unclear when they will do so.  The high court&rsquo...
Henry County landlord not liable for vicious pit bull attacks 
 A Henry County landlord cannot be held liable for vicious attacks on a woman by pit bull mixes that had escaped the fenced-in backyard of his rental property, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a unanimous ruling, the high court overturned a prior decision by the Court of Appeals that had allowed the claims against homeowner Gregory...

Posted: 9 days ago

A Henry County landlord cannot be held liable for vicious attacks on a woman by pit bull mixes that had escaped the fenced-in backyard of his rental property, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a unanimous ruling, the high court overturned a prior decision by the Court of Appeals that had allowed the claims against homeowner Gregory...
JUST IN: Court suppresses evidence seized in foster child murder case
 The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday tossed out some incriminating evidence against Henry County foster parents charged with murdering a 2-year-old child in their care. The justices ruled that information found in electronic devices owned by Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum cannot be used against them because law enforcement waited far too...

Posted: 9 days ago

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday tossed out some incriminating evidence against Henry County foster parents charged with murdering a 2-year-old child in their care. The justices ruled that information found in electronic devices owned by Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum cannot be used against them because law enforcement waited far too...
Major League Baseball warned railings were unsafe before Atlanta fan’s fall
 Just six days after a Texas baseball fan fell over a railing to his death in 2011, an insurance broker for Major League Baseball sent the league a sobering memo. BWD Group’s Michael Schmidt wrote that he had just paid a visit to Dodger Stadium and looked for ways a fan could fall over a protective railing to the ground below. &ldquo...

Posted: 9 days ago

Just six days after a Texas baseball fan fell over a railing to his death in 2011, an insurance broker for Major League Baseball sent the league a sobering memo. BWD Group’s Michael Schmidt wrote that he had just paid a visit to Dodger Stadium and looked for ways a fan could fall over a protective railing to the ground below. &ldquo...
Olsen trial rescheduled for September 23
 The murder trial of former DeKalb County police officer Robert “Chip” Olsen, which was supposed to have begun last week, has been rescheduled for September 23. Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Afghanistan War veteran Anthony Hill, shot twice by Olsen after the officer said Hill ran towards him, ignoring...

Posted: 12 days ago

The murder trial of former DeKalb County police officer Robert “Chip” Olsen, which was supposed to have begun last week, has been rescheduled for September 23. Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Afghanistan War veteran Anthony Hill, shot twice by Olsen after the officer said Hill ran towards him, ignoring...
Atlanta court upholds University System ban on unauthorized immigrants
 The federal appeals court in Atlanta has upheld a Board of Regents policy that prevents immigrant students who’ve received a special deportation reprieve from attending three of the state’s top universities. The court’s ruling Wednesday applies to immigrants who have been accepted into the Obama administration’s Deferred...

Posted: 13 days ago

The federal appeals court in Atlanta has upheld a Board of Regents policy that prevents immigrant students who’ve received a special deportation reprieve from attending three of the state’s top universities. The court’s ruling Wednesday applies to immigrants who have been accepted into the Obama administration’s Deferred...
Atlanta court’s ‘pay-or-jail’ sentences under fire from rights group
 Judges in Atlanta’s Municipal Court are imposing illegal sentences on indigent offenders, telling them they’ll have to spend time in jail if they can’t pay their fines, a civil rights group said. The Southern Center for Human Rights outlined its concerns in a letter sent Monday to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Chief...

Posted: 14 days ago

Judges in Atlanta’s Municipal Court are imposing illegal sentences on indigent offenders, telling them they’ll have to spend time in jail if they can’t pay their fines, a civil rights group said. The Southern Center for Human Rights outlined its concerns in a letter sent Monday to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Chief...
Court strikes down lifetime electronic monitoring of sex offenders
 The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday struck down a law requiring dangerous sexual predators who have completed their sentences to wear electronic monitors for the rest of their lives.  The requirement violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches, Chief Justice Harold Melton wrote for a unanimous court...

Posted: 16 days ago

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday struck down a law requiring dangerous sexual predators who have completed their sentences to wear electronic monitors for the rest of their lives.  The requirement violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches, Chief Justice Harold Melton wrote for a unanimous court...
5 things to know about Georgia death row case with ‘racist juror’
 The U.S. Supreme Court on March 18 declined to hear an appeal brought by Georgia inmate Keith Tharpe who contends a juror’s racist views prejudiced his decision to send Tharpe to death row. The justices’ unanimous decision was accompanied by a concurring opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said she was “profoundly troubled...

Posted: 17 days ago

The U.S. Supreme Court on March 18 declined to hear an appeal brought by Georgia inmate Keith Tharpe who contends a juror’s racist views prejudiced his decision to send Tharpe to death row. The justices’ unanimous decision was accompanied by a concurring opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said she was “profoundly troubled...
Murder trial of DeKalb cop delayed; new judge named
 The long-awaited murder trial of former DeKalb County police officer Robert “Chip” Olsen is being delayed. After two unsuccessful attempts, court administrators on Wednesday finally found a judge willing to preside over the high-profile case involving an Afghanistan war veteran who was unarmed and naked when he was shot and killed...

9:51 PM Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019

The long-awaited murder trial of former DeKalb County police officer Robert “Chip” Olsen is being delayed. After two unsuccessful attempts, court administrators on Wednesday finally found a judge willing to preside over the high-profile case involving an Afghanistan war veteran who was unarmed and naked when he was shot and killed...