Justia Georgia Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Anthony Veal challenged his convictions for numerous crimes, including malice murder, committed in the course of an armed robbery. He argued the trial court erred in failing to strike for cause potential and actual jurors who knew the murder victim or had a business relationship with the bank where the crimes occurred and that his counsel was ineffective for failing to move to strike the jurors for cause. Veal also argued that his due process rights were violated by the trial court’s failure to rule on his motion for new trial for over 17 years, and that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to pursue post-conviction relief in a timely fashion. The Georgia Supreme Court found that Veal did not preserve his argument that the challenged jurors were disqualified from serving as a matter of law, and trial counsel was not ineffective because a motion to strike on the only basis Veal asserted would have been meritless. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed his convictions. View "Veal v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Inee Lyman appeals his convictions and sentences for malice murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, all in connection with the shooting death of Christopher Lynn. Lyman argued the jury was improperly instructed, but the Georgia Supreme Court concluded he failed to establish that the omitted instruction would have affected the outcome of his trial. Furthermore, Lyman argued he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Finding no reason to overturn his conviction, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Lyman v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Martin Holmes appealed his convictions from a multi-victim crime spree which included the shooting death of Rickey Gibson. Holmes was indicted for armed robbery, aggravated assault, kidnapping, malice murder, felony murder, possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime, hijacking a motor vehicle, and possessing marijuana. Holmes raised a number of alleged errors at trial that warranted overturning his convictions or in the alternative, granting him a new trial. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed his convictions. View "Holmes v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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During the 2015 General Session, the legislature amended certain statutes governing Certificates of Public Necessity and Convenience (“CPNCs,” also known as taxi medallions) and created new provisions authorizing (and regulating) ride-sharing programs throughout the state. Appellants, taxicab drivers who operated in the City of Atlanta and owned CPNCs, filed suit claiming that the Act resulted in an unconstitutional taking and inverse condemnation of their CPNCs. The State moved to dismiss, arguing, among other things, that Appellants failed to state legally cognizable claims. The trial court agreed and granted the motion. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Abramyan v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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In 2004, appellant Prentiss Jackson entered a negotiated guilty plea to one count of statutory rape, registered with the sexual offender registry, and listed an address in Houston County. He was made aware of the requirement to update his registration information within 72 hours prior to any change of address. Nevertheless, in 2011, he moved to Bibb County without registering his new address within the required period of time. He was indicted, and the caption of the one-count indictment read: “Failure to register as a sex offender.” Jackson was ultimately convicted by jury and sentenced to 30 years, serving six in prison with the remainder on probation. Jackson appealed, arguing primarily that the indictment against him was insufficient. The Court of Appeals found no error and affirmed the conviction. The Georgia Supreme Court disagreed that the indictment was sufficient to withstand a general demurrer, and was deficient and void. Consequently, Jackson’s conviction was reversed. View "Jackson v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellee M7VEN Supportive Housing and Development Group (“M7”) failed to pay taxes on two properties in Carroll County, and, consequently, the Tax Commissioner conducted a tax sale. The properties were purchased by Appellant DLT List, LLC (“DLT”), for a total of $110,000, and the tax sale resulted in excess funds of approximately $105,000. The Commissioner notified M7, DLT, and others of excess funds, and, M7 filed a certificate of authorization seeking to receive the excess funds. Though there were no other claims made on the funds, the Commissioner did not release the funds. Appellee Design Acquisition, LLC, as a lienholder against M7, redeemed the properties from DLT, and DLT issued quitclaim deeds of redemption to M7. Design Acquisition filed a declaratory judgment action claiming entitlement to the excess funds, and the Commissioner filed an equitable interpleader action for the purpose of distributing the excess funds. The two actions were consolidated. The trial court determined that, because M7 was the only entity to have made a claim for the excess funds or to have had a recorded interest in the properties at the time of the tax sale, the Commissioner should have timely released the excess funds to M7. DLT and Design Acquisition appealed, arguing that Design Acquisition had first priority to the excess funds as the redeeming creditor. The Court of Appeals overruled the controlling case law in this matter, applied OCGA 48-4-5 (a) to the question of excess funds and determined that Design Acquisition had no claim to the excess funds because it was not a lienholder at the time of the tax sale. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether a redeeming creditor after a tax sale has a first priority claim on excess tax-sale funds. Though the Court disagreed with the rationale employed by the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court nevertheless affirmed its decision. View "DLT List, LLC v. M7VEN Supportive Housing & Development Group" on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted this interlocutory appeal to address whether the former version of OCGA 16-11-37(a), Georgia’s Terroristic Threats statute, was unconstitutionally overbroad and vague. Appellant Devon Major posted a statement to his Facebook page, ending with “Lord, please save me before, o (sic) get the chopper out and make Columbine look childish.” Shortly after the statement was published, a resource officer at Major’s school saw the post and contacted law enforcement. Officers then contacted Major who admitted posting the statement. He was arrested and indicted for threatening to commit a crime of violence against another “in reckless disregard of causing such terror” in violation of OCGA 16-11-37. Major filed an application for interlocutory appeal, which the Georgia Supreme Court granted, inquiring as to whether the statute was unconstitutionally void for vagueness and overbreadth because it permitted conviction based on recklessness. Based on the evidence in the record before it, the Supreme Court found the statute had not been unconstitutionally applied to Major. View "Major v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Mark Adkins was convicted by jury for crimes related to the murder of Frederick Early, and the non-fatal shootings of Briona Moor and Pamphylia Baynes. Adkins appealed, arguing the trial court erred by: (1) permitting the State to introduce a purported dying declaration by Early; (2) permitting the State to elicit improper opinion testimony by two law enforcement officers; and (3) failing to merge two aggravated assault convictions that were both based on the shooting of Baynes. The Georgia Supreme Court vacated in part because the trial court should have merged the two aggravated assault convictions. But the Court otherwise affirmed because Adkins introduced the evidence of Early’s statement and because the admission of the challenged law enforcement testimony was either not error or, at worst, harmless error. View "Adkins v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Anthony Veal challenged his convictions for numerous crimes, including malice murder, committed in the course of an armed bank robbery. Veal argued that the trial court erred in failing to strike for cause potential and actual jurors who knew the murder victim or had a business relationship with the bank where the crimes occurred and that his counsel was ineffective for failing to move to strike the jurors for cause. Veal also argued that his due process rights were violated by the trial court’s failure to rule on his motion for new trial for over 17 years, and that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to pursue post-conviction relief in a timely fashion. The Georgia Supreme Court found Veal did not preserve his argument that the challenged jurors were disqualified from serving as a matter of law, and trial counsel was not ineffective because a motion to strike on the only basis Veal asserts would have been meritless. Because Veal has failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by any post-conviction delay, his due process and ineffective assistance of counsel claims related to the delay also fail. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed Veal’s convictions. View "Veal v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey McGee appealed the denial of his motion in arrest of judgment, which McGee filed nearly fifteen years after having pled guilty to malice murder, aggravated battery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the shooting death of police officer Robbie Bishop. McGee claimed his original plea agreement was invalid based on the trial court having originally sentenced him for both malice murder and aggravated battery. The Georgia Supreme Court determined McGee’s motion was untimely, whether considered as a motion to withdraw his guilty plea or as a motion in arrest of judgment. Both sorts of motions must be filed within the same term of court at which the guilty plea or judgment being challenged was entered. View "McGee v. Georgia" on Justia Law