Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia
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James Johnson, Jr. appealed his convictions for malice murder and armed robbery stemming from the 1995 shooting death of Tony Rogers. Johnson argued on appeal that the evidence presented against him at trial was insufficient to support his conviction because, though he was seen with Rogers prior to his death, there was no physical evidence he killed Rogers. Further, Johnson argued the evidence was insufficient to sustain the robbery conviction because it failed to show Johnson took Rogers’ property by force. Finding the evidence sufficient as to both grounds, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Johnson v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Corduray Scott appealed after he was convicted of felony murder and second-degree cruelty to children in connection with the death of his three-month-old son. Scott challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions, and also argued the trial court erred in admitting certain statements he gave during a custodial interview, because although he was read his Miranda rights, he was not reminded of them during a second interview. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Scott’s convictions. View "Scott v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Johnny Colquitt pled guilty in 1993 to malice murder, armed robbery, and kidnapping with bodily injury in connection with the shooting death of Shelton Chappell. Colquitt received three life sentences for these crimes, with the sentences for malice murder and kidnapping to run concurrently with each other, and the sentence for armed robbery to run consecutively to the other counts. Twenty-five years later, Colquitt moved “in equity to void plea agreement and in arrest of judgment.” The trial court dismissed this for lack of jurisdiction. Acting pro se, Colquitt appealed. In his argument to the Georgia Supreme Court, he did not address the trial court’s grounds for dismissal. Instead, Colquitt reiterated his contention his conviction should have been vacated, and that his plea was not made voluntarily. Finding no merit to these contentions, the Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Colquitt v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant LaQuan Brown appeals her convictions for the murder of Ivory Carter, the armed robbery and aggravated assault of George Jackson, and the attempted murder and attempted armed robbery of Frederick Knight. Appellant contended: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions; (2) the trial court erred in its rulings on a number of evidentiary matters; and (3) trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective in eight different ways. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the trial court and Appellant’s convictions. View "Brown v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Rodney Smith and Javon Jackson appealed the denial of their motions for new trial after a jury found them guilty of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Stephanie Smith and the shooting of Rasheeda Bostic. Both Smith and Jackson claimed: (1) the State presented insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdicts; (2) the trial court erred in admitting recordings of two witnesses’ prior statements; and (3) their trial attorneys provided ineffective assistance. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Bahir Ramiz Howard was convicted of murder and related crimes for the 2010 shooting death of Jerode Paige. He appealed, arguing the trial court erred in several jury instructions, and violated his constitutional right to be present during his trial. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Howard v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Maurice Bentley was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with a shooting that killed Michael Polite and injured Angela Johnson. Appellant contended on appeal that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to object to an autopsy photograph, failing to stipulate to Appellant’s prior convictions for rape and incest, and mentioning in front of the jury an earlier trial in this case. The Georgia Supreme Court determined none of these claims had merit, so it affirmed. View "Bentley v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Andre Myrick was convicted of felony murder and a firearm offense in connection with the shooting death of Kenneth Bevis. On appeal, he argued the trial court erred by denying his Batson challenge as to three prospective jurors. He also argued the court erred by denying his request for a mistrial after the jury heard a police detective refer to statements made by a witness who died before the trial and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by introducing this evidence. Finding no merit to these contentions, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Myrick v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Urihaan Velasco was convicted of malice murder in connection with the beating death of Quang Popham. Appellant contended: (1) the evidence presented at his trial was legally insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the State failed to prove venue; and (3) his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to file a pretrial motion for immunity and by failing to request a jury instruction on voluntary manslaughter. Finding no merit in these contentions, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Velasco v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Robert Mitchum was convicted by jury in 1999 of felony murder. Fifteen years later, he filed a pro se extraordinary motion for a new trial based on improper communications with the jury. The issue this case presented for the Georgia Supreme Court centered on whether Mitchum’s post-appeal challenge to his criminal conviction could be properly pursued through an extraordinary motion for a new trial, or whether such claims had to be pursued exclusively through a petition for the writ of habeas corpus. The Georgia Supreme Court determined that because the rights involved implicated defendant’s constitutional rights, and because habeas corpus provided an adequate remedy for addressing those claims, an extraordinary motion for a new trial was not the proper vehicle through with defendant could pursue his claims. The trial court should have dismissed his motion. Because it denied Mitchum’s motion instead of dismissing it, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s decision, and remanded the case for entry of an order of dismissal. View "Mitchum v. Georgia" on Justia Law