Neuman Case: Panitch Will Not Be Called as Witness

Challenge to Judge's Decision is Rejected, Defense tries to get Judge to reconsider decision on making psychologist hand over evaluation


Esther Panitch, the attorney for the estranged wife of Hemy Neuman, will not take the stand as a witness in Mr. Neuman’s trial.

Monday, the judge in the case quashed a witness subpoena from Neuman’s defense attorneys.

Hemy Neuman is accused of gunning down Rusty Sneiderman outside of a Dunwoody daycare on Nov. 18, 2010. Neuman has entered a plea of insanity. The trial in his case is set to start on Feb. 13.

Panitch is the attorney for Ariela Neuman, whom Panitch represented in a separation case last year.

Mr. Neuman’s attorneys subpoenaed Panitch. They claimed she may have ‘independent information’ on the murder and Mr. Neuman’s mental state at the time of the crime.

Panitch fought the subpoena.

In a hearing was held earlier this month, .

Her attorney Jim Hodes argued that she had no independent information about the murder and anything she learned about the case was learned from her client or through work on her client’s case, information protected by the attorney client privilege.

The defense argued that Panitch does have ‘independent facts,’ and that they wanted to “hold out the possibility that we may need to call her.”

Adams quashed the subpoena Monday, saying the defense didn’t make a strong enough case.

“Defendant had the burden of showing that he would be prejudiced if Ms. Panitch were unable to testify…That showing was not made,” he wrote. “There was no evidence or proffer made to the Court that Ms. Panitch would provide material testimony at the trial.”


Appeal on psychologist's evaluation denied

On Jan. 11, Adams ruled that Dr. Peter Thomas, a psychologist who evaluated Neuman after his arrest but before his plea of insanity, .

Two days later, the defense asked for an immediate review of Adams' decision.

Thomas, who had been hired by Neuman's attorneys for the evaluation, and therefore, they argued, should have been protected by the attorney client privilege.

Adams ruled otherwise. 

"Whether to release said items is a matter of first impression in Georgia, and could have a critical impact on the trial of this case," wrote attorney Douglas Peters. "The issue of whether to release said items is of such importance to this case that immediate review should be had in the Georgia appellate courts."

The appeal didn't work.

"The defendant filed a motion requesting a certificate of immediate review," wrote Adams, in response. "The court declines to certify its January 11, 2012 order for immediate appeal and accordingly denies defendant's motion."


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