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Badge and Bar: Hall attorney named state Assistant Defender of Year
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Brett Willis, an attorney with the Hall County Public Defender’s Office, was honored Saturday as “Assistant Circuit Defender of the Year” by the Georgia Association of Circuit Public Defenders at its annual meeting on Tybee Island.

It is the second time in three years an attorney from the Northeastern Judicial Circuit has been named Assistant Circuit Defender of the Year. Travis A. Williams, a senior assistant in the Hall office, received the award in 2011.

One recipient is chosen among hundreds of nominees each year, Circuit Public Defender Brad Morris said, adding it was a “high honor” and “well deserved” for Willis.

Willis is a senior attorney who has been with the office since its creation in 2004, fresh out of law school. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, with a Master of Laws from New York University.

“Known as a tireless advocate for indigent clients who is meticulous in his trial preparation, Willis has become a resource and mentor for younger lawyers in the office,” the office said in a news release.

Willis was honored earlier in 2013 by the Southern Public Defender Training Center, also known as “Gideon’s Promise” with its “Foot Soldier Award.”

In 2008, the Daily Report, an Atlanta-based legal publication, named Willis one of that year’s “10 to Watch,” a list of up-and-coming lawyers under the age of 40.

Willis, 37, lives in Gainesville with his wife, Johanna, and their three daughters.

Clermont armed robbery suspect enters not guilty plea

Michael Allen Hoitink of Clermont was arraigned Dec. 3 on charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault in Hall County Superior Court, where he entered a plea of not guilty.

Hoitink, 25, was arrested in June after evading law enforcement for 19 days. He was wanted in connection with the May 31 attempted robbery of the Country Grocery and Deli, 6531 Dahlonega Highway, Clermont.

A tip to law enforcement led to Hoitink’s arrest a few days after the Hall County Sheriff’s Office released surveillance footage with a clear view of the suspect and his car.

In the footage, cashier Manoj Patel boldly swatted at the robber with a large flashlight, prompting him to flee.
Hoitink is scheduled for Judge Jason Deal’s trial calendar that begins on Jan. 13.

Arraignment set for teen charged with rape, child molestation

An arraignment date has been set for a 13-year-old boy indicted on rape and molestation charges in November by a Hall County grand jury.

Rosendo Mojica, of Gainesville, is set to appear before Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller on March 14.

Mojica was charged with one count of rape and two counts of aggravated child molestation in the alleged July 4 sexual assault of a girl under the age of 10, according to the indictment.

In the state of Georgia, teens between the ages of 13 and 16 can be charged as adults in Superior Court for felony offenses called the “seven deadly sins,” including murder, armed robbery and aggravated sexual battery.

Emma Witman covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her: