A Hall County public defender will receive an award Tuesday for work in community service.
Public defender Nicki Vaughan is the recipient of the 16th Annual Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service.
The award, which is presented by the State Bar of Georgia, honors members of the bar who “have made significant contributions to their communities and demonstrate the positive contributions of members of the Bar beyond their legal or official work,” according to a news release.
Vaughan is one of the co-founders of Georgia CASA, a group of court-appointed special advocates who assist children in foster care.
Vaughan is one of 10 recipients this year across the different judicial districts that had nominees.
The event will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the State Bar of Georgia’s Atlanta headquarters, 104 Marietta St. NW.
Child trafficking proceeding continued due to issue of defendant’s competency
The competency at issue for a woman accused of trafficking a child caused the assistant district attorney in the case to ask for a continuance.
Maria Mercedes Vasquez-Quiroz, Junior Alexander Delcid-Leon and Digno De Jesus Mejia were indicted on Feb. 6, 2014.
Vasquez-Quiroz was charged with rape, aggravated child molestation, child molestation, first-degree child cruelty, enticing a child for indecent purposes, trafficking a person for sexual servitude and aggravated sodomy.
Delcid-Leon was charged with child molestation, aggravated child molestation, first-degree child cruelty, aggravated sodomy and rape.
Mejia was charged with child molestation, first-degree child cruelty, enticing a child for indecent purposes, trafficking of a person for sexual servitude and rape.
The trial was scheduled for the week of March 23.
“A determination of Maria Mercedes Vasquez-Quiroz’s competency has not yet been made and there is no indication that a determination will be made in the immediate future,” the motion reads.
The prosecution, according to the motion, hopes to try all three defendants together.
The order granting the motion was signed by Superior Court Judge Jason Deal on Jan. 21.
In August, Vasquez-Quiroz was evaluated by a forensic psychologist to see if she could effectively communicate with her attorney and defend her case.
Nick Watson covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: