Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia

by
Jerome Victoria appealed after a jury convicted him of felony murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He argued he received ineffective assistance of counsel regarding a potential plea deal offer. The Georgia Supreme Court found that although the 20-year plea deal offered by the State was less severe than the life sentence imposed after trial, and Victoria testified that he would have taken that deal, Victoria made no showing that “the prosecution would not have withdrawn it in light of intervening circumstances [and] . . . that the court would have accepted its terms.” Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. View "Victoria v. Georgia" on Justia Law

by
Kendrick Cheeves was convicted by jury of malice murder and various other offenses in connection with the shooting death of Quinton Henderson. On appeal, Cheeves contended only that the trial court erred by failing to charge the jury on involuntary manslaughter. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Cheeves v. Georgia" on Justia Law

by
Appellant Mark Derrico was convicted of aggressive driving, reckless conduct, and failure to signal lane change or turn in connection with a road rage incident. Derrico raised several challenges on appeal, including constitutional challenges. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Derrico v. Georgia" on Justia Law

by
A jury found appellant Terry Joe Cain guilty of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Matthew Mobley and the assault of Gregory Johnson. He appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict, finding that his pretrial statement to law enforcement was voluntarily given, and denying his motion for mistrial. Upon consideration, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded that Cain’s claims were meritless. However, because the trial court erred in sentencing, the case was remanded for resentencing. View "Cain v. Georgia" on Justia Law

by
In 2016, Appellant Brandon Davis pled guilty to the felony murder of Chassity Lester. Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, the State nolle prossed one count of malice murder (the only other charge for which Davis was indicted), and the trial court sentenced Davis to life imprisonment. Approximately two weeks later, and during the same term of court, Davis moved, through plea counsel, to withdraw his guilty plea. At a hearing on that motion, during which Davis was still represented by the same attorney who represented him during his guilty plea, Davis personally told the trial judge that he felt that his plea counsel did not have enough time to prepare for the case. Davis’s attorney also argued that Davis was “psychologically coerced” into pleading guilty. Without appointing new counsel or receiving evidence on that claim, the trial court denied Davis’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The Georgia Supreme Court reversed that denial and remanded the case for the trial court to hold a hearing with new counsel on Davis’s ineffectiveness claim. On remand, the trial court again denied Davis’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The Supreme Court dismissed as untimely Davis’s first attempt to appeal that ruling, but Davis then requested, and was granted, this out-of-time appeal. The Supreme Court found counsel’s conduct did not “fall below an objective standard of reasonableness,” and affirmed the sentence. View "Davis v. Georgia" on Justia Law

by
A mistrial was granted in the murder case against Monquez Jackson. The trial court found that the prosecutor’s closing argument included an improper comment on matters not in evidence. After making extensive findings that the prosecutor made that improper comment intentionally in hopes that the comment would lead to a mistrial, and thus an opportunity to retry the case, the trial court determined that double jeopardy prohibited the State from retrying Jackson. The State appealed. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not abuse its considerable discretion in granting the mistrial. The Supreme Court also concluded that the trial court’s factual findings supported its jeopardy ruling, and that those findings had to stand given the deference afforded to them. View "Georgia v. Jackson" on Justia Law

by
Gregory Rhynes was convicted by jury for the malice murder of Michael Holmes. He appealed, contending the trial court erred by partially denying his motion to suppress all statements he made to police during an interview on December 11, 2015. After review, and finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Rhynes’ conviction. View "Rhynes v. Georgia" on Justia Law

by
In 2013, a jury found Frederick Lee Gude guilty of malice murder, felony murder predicated on aggravated assault, aggravated assault, and theft by taking in connection with the stabbing death of Jacquelyn Nash. He appealed, contending that the trial court erred in admitting a tape-recorded voicemail message into evidence and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Gude v. Georgia" on Justia Law

by
Jeremy Scott was convicted by jury of felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and criminal use of a firearm with an altered identification mark in connection with the death of Romondo Ashley. On appeal, Scott contended he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and the trial court erred by giving the jury an incomplete and misleading charge on accident. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Scott v. Georgia" on Justia Law

by
Appellant Ruby Evans was found guilty by jury of conspiring with her son to murder her daughter-in-law, Sunday Blombergh, with an overdose of drugs, and of committing malice murder as a party to her husband’s subsequent acts of shooting, strangling, and stabbing Blombergh to death. She appealed, contending that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions and that she was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Evans v. Georgia" on Justia Law