Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia

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This Court granted applications for certificates of probable cause from Mark Jason Jones, Kenneth Eric Gardiner, and Dominic Brian Lucci to appeal the denials of their petitions for writs of habeas corpus. Jones, Gardiner, and Lucci were tried and found guilty of malice murder in the shooting death of Stanley Jackson, as well as of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The three defendants were Army servicemen stationed at Fort Stewart, near Savannah. Defendants were Caucasian; Jackson was African-American. Evidence presented at the November, 1992 trial showed that, during the day of January 31, 1992, Jones sought to borrow some equipment from a fellow soldier, Sylvia Wallace, telling Wallace he was going to Savannah that night because “he had somebody that he was going to shoot.” When Wallace enquired who that would be, Jones replied, “I got a black guy up there I got to get.” A witness stated he saw two men fire military-type automatic or semiautomatic rifles through the window of a 1992 black Chevrolet Cavalier while a third man drove the car; Jackson was killed in the shooting. The Georgia Supreme Court determined, in light of the totality of the circumstances, confidence in the outcome of the trial was undermined by the State’s failure to provide exculpatory evidence to the defense. It therefore reversed denials of each defendant’s petition for habeas corpus and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Jones v. Medlin" on Justia Law

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Mye Brindle worked as a housekeeper and personal assistant to Joe Rogers, who was married. During her employment with Rogers, the two became involved sexually. In June 2012, Brindle hired attorneys David Cohen and John Butters to represent her on a potential claim of sexual harassment. Without Rogers’ knowledge or consent to be video recorded, Brindle allegedly used a “spy” camera to secretly record video of Rogers naked in his bathroom and bedroom, as well as video of a sexual encounter between Rogers and herself inside his bedroom. The video recording was delivered to attorney Cohen, and Brindle resigned from her position with Rogers. Rogers received a demand letter from attorney Cohen relating to the potential sexual harassment claim that he and Butters were prepared to file on Brindle’s behalf. After extensive civil litigation between Rogers and Brindle, Brindle and her attorneys (collectively, “defendants”) were charged in the Superior Court of Fulton County with conspiracy to commit extortion under OCGA 16-8-16 (Count 1), conspiracy to commit unlawful surveillance (Count 2), and conducting unlawful surveillance under OCGA 16-11-62 (Count 3). Brindle was also charged individually with one additional count of conducting unlawful surveillance under OCGA 16-11-62 (Count 4). The indictment was largely based on the defendants’ prior actions involving an alleged conspiracy to secretly video record and then actually record Rogers in the bathroom and bedroom of his home, and then sending Rogers the litigation demand letter. Defendants filed a general demurrer to dismiss the indictment against them and to have the statutes underlying the charged crimes declared unconstitutional. The trial court issued an order granting defendants’ general demurrer, finding the indictment failed to show that defendants committed any crimes under the relevant statutes. The trial court went on to conclude that OCGA 16-8-16 (a) (3) was unconstitutionally overbroad on its face, and further declared that OCGA sections 16- 11-62 (2) and 16-11-66 (a) were unconstitutionally vague because “persons of ordinary intelligence [could not] be expected to determine what is permitted and prohibited by these [two] statutes.” Accordingly, the trial court dismissed all counts of the indictment against all of defendants. The State appealed. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that: (1) while the trial court properly dismissed Count 1 of the indictment, the trial court erred by reaching the constitutional issue relating to OCGA 16-8-16 (a) (3) in support of this result; and (2) the trial court erred in dismissing Counts 2, 3, and 4 of the indictment and in concluding that OCGA sections 16-11-62 (2) and 16-11-66 (a) were unconstitutionally vague. View "Georgia v. Cohen" on Justia Law

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Appellant Jelani Asim Anthony was convicted of malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. On appeal, Anthony contended the trial court erred by: (1) refusing to suppress an identification obtained as the result of an allegedly flawed lineup; and (2) failing to grant his motion for new trial after new evidence relating to an alternate suspect was revealed. Furthermore, Anthony claimed his trial counsel and post-trial counsel were ineffective. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Anthony v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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A jury found appellant Eric Thompson guilty of two counts of malice murder in connection with the deaths of Andre Geddis and Melody Keller. On appeal, Thompson contended the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence, including character evidence and hearsay evidence, and denying his motion for continuance. Thompson also challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the guilty verdicts and alleged his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to a portion of the State’s closing argument. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed that some of the challenged character evidence was improperly admitted and that the admission was not harmless. Therefore, the Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. View "Thompson v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Davoris Hodges was found guilty by jury of two counts of felony murder, armed robbery, and two counts of aggravated assault related to the shooting death of Khristal Wright, a Johnson County deputy sheriff. He was found not guilty of malice murder. Finding only an error in the trial court’s calculation of Appellant’s sentence, the Georgia Supreme Court vacated his sentence and remanded for resentencing. The Court affirmed in all other respects. View "Hodges v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Lisa Lebis was convicted by jury of murder and other crimes related to the shooting death of a police officer. On appeal, she argued the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict with regard to a number of counts against her and that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in the case. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part - affirming Lebis’s convictions of two of the misdemeanor obstruction counts and all of the counts regarding possession of firearms and dangerous weapons; but reversing her conviction of felony murder and of the other two misdemeanor obstructions. View "Lebis v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Temon Williams was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the October 2012 stabbing death of Shawn Doughty. Williams appealed, asserting insufficiency of the evidence, erroneous admission of expert testimony, erroneous admission of evidence seized during a search of his residence, and ineffectiveness of his trial counsel for various reasons. Although the Georgia Supreme Court found no error regarding Williams’s contentions, the Court vacated in part due to a sentencing error. View "Williams v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Marlon Jones appealed his convictions stemming from the death of his daughter Jania Parker-Jones. Appellant argued on appeal the evidence was insufficient to convict, his trial counsel rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance, and the trial court abused its discretion by failing to grant a mistrial. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed on the merits but vacated in part to correct a sentencing error. View "Jones v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Ahmad Brown challenged his convictions for malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Deonta Moore. Appellant contended on appeal that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial and that the trial court improperly commented on the evidence. The Georgia Supreme Court rejected these contentions and affirm Appellant’s convictions, but vacated the trial court’s judgment in part and remanded for the correction of a sentencing error. View "Brown v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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In 2015, appellees Brenton Jefferson, his brother Santez Jefferson, Demarcus Cawthorne, Jamal Arnold, and Lee Davis were charged with, among other things, attempted murder, aggravated battery, kidnapping, and violations of the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. In connection with the State’s efforts to build a case against Appellees, the State gave notice of its intention to introduce into evidence at trial four certified copies of convictions relating to various gang members pursuant to OCGA 16-15-9. Santez filed a “Motion in Limine to Declare OCGA 16-15-9 Unconstitutional and to Bar the Introduction of Third Party Convictions,” arguing that the statute on its face violated the Confrontation Clause of the United States Constitution. The remaining Appellees adopted the motion at a 2016 hearing on the matter. Thereafter, the trial court entered an order finding that the admission of the third party convictions and the prior conviction of Cawthorne in the Appellees’ trial would violate their Sixth Amendment rights to confront the witnesses against them. The trial court granted appellees’ motion to declare the statute unconstitutional, and excluded the use of any of the third party convictions. The State appealed. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded the trial court correctly determined that OCGA 16-15-9 was unconstitutional on its face to the extent that it authorized the admission of the convictions of non-testifying non-parties as evidence of a criminal street gang. View "Georgia v. Jefferson" on Justia Law