Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia
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Appellant Tommy Collins was convicted of felony murder in connection with the stabbing death of 14-year-old Rueben Hand. Friends gathered to watch the Peach Drop on New Year's Eve 2010; a disagreement ensued and Hand was stabbed near the Five Points MARTS station shortly after midnight. Appellant’s only argument on appeal was that the trial court plainly erred when it gave the jury the State’s requested instruction on “revenge for a prior wrong.” Seeing no error, "much less plain error," the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Collins v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Victoria Rickman was convicted by jury of malice murder and a related firearm offense in connection with the shooting death of William Carter, Jr. Rickman and Carter had a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship with a history of verbal and physical abuse, false accusations of sexual assault, empty threats to obtain temporary protective orders, and numerous calls to 911. In the days leading up to Carter’s death, the pair was talking and meeting again despite a recent break-up. On one such 911 call, officers went to Rickman's residence responding to claims shots were fired. Rickman responded holding her small dog, hair wet, and in pajamas. She did not appear to be injured, and nothing in the home looked disturbed or out of place. Rickman told the officers, “he raped me again and I shot him.” Officers found Carter laying face up on the bed naked with multiple gunshot wounds to his body. An autopsy revealed that Carter was shot ten times – four times in the chest, three times in the back, once on the arm, and twice in the head. Rickman’s examining physician testified that he found no injuries on Rickman consistent with her description of events, and no signs of trauma to her vaginal cavity. Rickman appealed her convictions, arguing she was denied effective assistance of counsel and that the trial court erred in admitting improper character evidence. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Rickman v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Antonio Sullivan of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Wava Benton. On appeal, Sullivan contended his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective by failing to present evidence at trial to corroborate Sullivan’s testimony about prior difficulties between Sullivan and Benton, and by failing to procure expert testimony about Sullivan’s mental health—specifically about post-traumatic stress disorder— to be presented to the jury. The Georgia Supreme Court determined Sullivan failed to establish that his trial counsel was deficient in either respect, and therefore affirmed his convictions. View "Sullivan v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Randall Keller was convicted of felony murder and related crimes arising out of the beating death of his ex-wife’s two-year-old son, William Powell. On appeal, Keller raised numerous claims of error, including ineffective assistance of counsel, the trial court’s rulings on motions before and during trial, several evidentiary rulings, and alleged bias on the part of the trial judge. However, finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Keller's convictions. View "Keller v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Marquez Martin was convicted by jury of felony murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting deaths of James Wood and Russell Jacobs. On appeal, Martin contended his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective by failing to object to the trial court’s omission of certain language trial counsel had requested for the jury charge on defendant’s good character. Because Martin has failed to establish that his trial counsel was deficient in not objecting to the omission of the requested language, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, but vacated in part to correct a sentencing error. The trial court sentenced Martin to concurrent life sentences on all four felony murder convictions. But because there were only two murders, it was error for the trial court to sentence Martin on four murder counts. View "Martin v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Deante Hall was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit malice murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in connection with the shooting death of Tony Butler and an assault on Levar Andrews.Hall challenged the sufficiency of the evidence as to each offense of which he was convicted. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Hall's convictions. View "Hall v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Gary Ensslin was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Stephen Wills. Ensslin contended on appeal that in denying his motion for new trial, the trial court erred by ruling that the improper admission at his trial of statements that investigators elicited from him after he invoked his right to remain silent was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The Georgia Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed Ensslin's convictions. View "Ensslin v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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After the trial court granted his motion for new trial, Laurence Watts was retried before a jury in 2010 and again found guilty of malice murder and related offenses in connection with the 2003 shooting death of Brent Ogletree. His amended motion for new trial after the retrial was denied, and he appealed, claiming as his sole enumeration of error ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Watts.v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Phell Hudson, Jr. appealed his convictions for malice murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and making a false statement, all stemming from the shooting death of Michael Allen. Hudson argued the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter and insanity at the time of the alleged crimes. He also argued the trial court erred by limiting his cross-examination of a witness. The Georgia Supreme Court determined Hudson's jury instruction claims failed because the evidence presented at trial did not include even slight evidence to support either charge. And his cross- examination claim failed because any error was harmless. Accordingly, the Court affirmed Hudson's convictions. View "Hudson v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Michael Frazier, Jr. was convicted as a party to the crimes of felony murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in connection with the shooting death of one of his accomplices, Quenterious Griner. Appellant’s sole contention on appeal was that the evidence presented at his trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Finding the evidence sufficient, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Frazier v. Georgia" on Justia Law