Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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A jury found Randall Jones guilty of bringing stolen property into the State of Georgia and theft by conversion of the same property. The Court of Appeals rejected Jones’ claim that the two verdicts were mutually exclusive. Because the verdicts for theft by conversion and theft by bringing stolen property into the state were indeed mutually exclusive here, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded reversal of both verdicts was required. View "Jones v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Donnie Forte of murder and kidnapping (amongst other crimes). He appealed, arguing the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain his convictions. Furthermore, Forte argued the trial court erred in instructing the jury on malice murder. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Forte’s convictions. View "Forte v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Following the denial of his motion for new trial, as amended, Herman Smith appealed his convictions for felony murder while in the commission of aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and carrying a weapon without a license, all in connection with the 2012 fatal shooting of Cardarius Steagall and an assault of Chaserah Horton. Smith argued on appeal that the trial court erred by refusing to grant a mistrial, and erred in two of its evidentiary rulings. Finding the challenges to be without merit, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Frank Bozzie was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the 2013 death of Richard Morgan. Bozzie appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to support his malice murder conviction, the trial court made numerous evidentiary errors, he should have been granted a new trial due to alleged juror misconduct, he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and the trial court erred in refusing to secure his attendance for the motion for new trial hearing. Because none of these claims had merit, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Bozzie’s convictions. View "Bozzie v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Paul Manner was convicted of malice murder and related offenses in connection with the 2013 shooting death of Tracey Kingcannon. On appeal, Manner contended his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by withdrawing a request for a jury charge on the requirement for evidence corroborating accomplice testimony, and by failing to introduce evidence of the confessions of two of the State’s witnesses to an earlier aggravated assault on the victim. Manner also contended the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury on impeachment by prior conviction related to a first offender guilty plea by on State witness was plain error; or, in the alternative, his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to preserve her objection to the court’s denial of her request for that instruction. After review, the Georgia Supreme Court determined counsel’s strategic decision to withdraw her request for an accomplice corroboration instruction was not objectively unreasonable under the circumstances of this case. Similarly, counsel’s decision to rely on testimony about the State’s witnesses’ involvement in and confessions to an earlier aggravated assault on the victim, rather than seeking to admit the witnesses’ written statements, fell within the broad range of reasonable trial strategy. And the Supreme Court found no error in the trial court’s refusal to give the instruction on impeachment by prior conviction, and thus, no deficiency in counsel’s failure to make a specific objection on this issue after the jury instructions were given. The Court did, however, find the trial court erred in merging the two felony murder verdicts into the malice murder verdict, when the felony murder convictions should have been vacated by operation of law. View "Manner v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Orlando Smith was convicted of felony murder and related offenses in connection with the 2010 shooting death of Demetra Smith . On appeal, Smith argued: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred by: failing to suppress illegally obtained evidence; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial; and (4) the trial court erred in allowing inadmissible hearsay pursuant to the necessity exception. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Bernard Dixon and Arrick Camps were tried by jury and found guilty of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the 2015 shooting death of Robert Carr. They appealed, both contending the trial court erred when it refused to declare a mistrial for prosecutorial misconduct in the cross examination of a defense witness. They also argued (each for different reasons) the trial court erred when it refused to grant them new trials based on jury misconduct. Finding no reversible error after review of the trial court record, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the convictions. View "Dixon v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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James Carter was tried by jury and convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the 2011 shooting death of Chandler Johnson. Carter appealed, contending: (1) the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) the trial court erred when it struck two prospective jurors; (3) the trial court erred when it refused to strike a third juror; (4) the trial court erred when it admitted evidence of his pretrial statements; and (5) the trial court erred when it allowed Johnson’s mother to testify about certain text messages, which she said that she had received from Carter. After review of the record and briefs, the Georgia Supreme Court found no reversible error, and affirmed. View "Carter v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Lawrence Womac appealed his convictions and sentences for aggravated sexual battery, child molestation, cruelty to children in the first degree, and false imprisonment. On appeal, Womac argued, among other things, that his life sentence for aggravated sexual battery constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Georgia Constitution. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirm. View "Womac v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Malcolm Muckle was convicted of felony murder in connection with the 2012 shooting death of his accomplice in an attempted armed robbery, Travis Callaway. On appeal, he argued the evidence at his trial was insufficient to support his conviction and that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. The Georgia Supreme Court determined neither of those claims had merit, so it affirmed the conviction. View "Muckle v. Georgia" on Justia Law