Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Appellant Lewis Parks a/k/a Harris appeals his convictions related to the 2010 death of Lyndon “Pookie” Tucker. Appellant’s sole enumeration of error is that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of the crimes for which the jury returned verdicts of guilty. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient as a matter of due process to authorize a rational trier of fact to find appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted either as a direct participant or as a party to the crimes for which he was charged. View "Parks v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Nehemiah Anglin appealed his conviction for felony murder and marijuana possession following the death of Damion Wright. Anglin argued the trial court erred by admitting: (1) testimony that he put a “hit” on the State’s primary witness; (2) evidence of his alleged membership in a gang, including evidence of his tattoos; (3) other evidence he says is hearsay; (4) security camera footage; and (5) testimony concerning the credibility of a witness. He also argued that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to object to certain jury charges and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, the Georgia Supreme Court found the evidentiary decisions of which Anglin complained either did not amount to an abuse of the trial court’s discretion or were harmless error. The Court also found Anglin’s claims of deficient performance by counsel were either without merit or abandoned, and the Court rejected an argument that the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions. View "Anglin v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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A grand jury indicted appellant Juan Cannon for crimes relating to victim Terrence Wiggins being stabbed in the neck because appellant believed Wiggins owed him money. The record showed the stabbing took place in a DeKalb County restaurant. Anthony Daniels, who was closing up the restaurant, witnessed the stabbing. Shaquanna Fields, who was sitting inside the restaurant, was also alleged to have witnessed the events of that night. Immediately after being stabbed, the victim ran away from appellant and ran towards a police officer who was conducting a traffic stop across the street from the restaurant. Wiggins ran from the restaurant, and flagged down a police officer. The officer asked Wiggins who stabbed him, but Wiggins was running out of breath and was unable to answer. Wiggins eventually died from the injury he sustained to his neck. Appellant represented himself for the first day and a half of trial. On the second day of trial, during his cross-examination of Daniels, who was the fourth witness for the State, appellant decided he wanted to be represented by the public defender who had been standing by to represent him if requested. Trial counsel took over the cross-examination of Daniels and continued to represent appellant for the remainder of the trial. After he was convicted, appellant argued: (1) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel; (3) the trial court erred by not giving a requested jury charge on impeachment by prior conviction (pertaining to Daniels’ testimony); and (4) the trial court abused its discretion when it gave the “Allen” charge after a juror stated his unwillingness to continue listening and discussing the case with the other jurors. The Georgia Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed appellant’s convictions. View "Cannon v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Following a bench trial, appellant William Wimberly was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, in the 2014 death of Christopher Strickland. He appealed, arguing: (1) the evidence was insufficient; (2) he received ineffective assistance of counsel; and (3) that he was entitled to a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. Finding these assertions were without merit, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wimberly v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Wardell White entered guilty pleas to felony murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting deaths of Victor Martinez and Mauricio Maldonado, and the trial court entered judgments of conviction and sentence on the guilty pleas that did not merge. During the same term of court, Appellant filed two pro se motions to withdraw guilty pleas. The State moved to dismiss the pro se motions on the ground that Appellant was represented by counsel when he filed them, and the trial court granted the State’s motion. Appellant, assisted by counsel, filed a timely notice of appeal. However, finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "White v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Robert Olsen was formerly a police officer who was indicted for felony murder and other charges related to the shooting death of an unarmed suspect. The shooting occurred when Olsen responded to a suspicious person report at an apartment complex and ultimately shot the individual who was the subject of the report. Olsen claimed he acted in self-defense, and moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that unauthorized persons were present in the grand jury room during the prosecutor’s presentation of evidence. After conducting a hearing, the trial court denied this motion in a detailed order setting forth the circumstances of the evidentiary proceedings before the grand jury and the applicable law, and then granted a certificate of immediate review. The Georgia Supreme Court granted appellant’s request for interlocutory appeal to address: (1) whether the presence of witnesses, non-lawyer and lawyer spectators during the presentation of evidence to the grand jury during the proceedings leading to the defendant’s indictment in this case violated the recognized need for grand jury secrecy and compromised the grand jury’s independence from outside influence; and (2) whether the defendant was prejudiced by the presence of these individuals such that the trial court erred in refusing to dismiss his indictment. After reviewing the record and considering the parties’ arguments, the Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed. View "Olsen v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Stephen Fazio was convicted after a bench trial of driving under the influence of alcohol to the extent it was less safe to do so, and driving with an unlawful blood alcohol concentration. He appealed, arguing the trial court erred when it refused to suppress the results of his alcohol breath tests because, he contended, they were obtained in violation of the United States and Georgia constitutions, in part because the statute did not fully and accurately inform a suspect of his rights or the consequences of his refusal to consent to a breath test. Finding no error or constitutional violation, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Fazio v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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A jury found appellant Delron Glenn guilty of malice murder in connection with the shooting death of John Tanner. Glenn appealed, arguing: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion in limine to prevent lay witness identification testimony; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the search of his sister’s apartment because the magistrate judge lacked probable cause to issue the search warrant; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress a cell phone seized during that search, and; (4) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to identify and redact references to Glenn’s gang affiliation that were contained in a co-defendant’s video-taped statement which was played for the jury. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Glenn v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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This case calls for the Georgia Supreme Court to decide whether Georgia’s state constitutional protection prohibited law enforcement from compelling a person suspected of DUI to blow their deep lung air into a breathalyzer. “A nearly unbroken line of precedent dating back to 1879 leads us to conclude that it does, although the appellant here still loses because the language of the implied consent notice statute he challenges is not per se coercive.” Frederick Olevik was convicted of DUI less safe, failure to maintain a lane, and no brake lights. Olevik appealed, challenging the denial of his motion to suppress the results of a state-administered breath test on the grounds that the implied consent notice statute, OCGA 40-5-67.1 (b), was unconstitutional on its face and as applied to him. Olevik argued: (1) that his right against compelled self-incrimination was implicated when law enforcement asked him to expel deep lung air into a breathalyzer; (2) that the materially misleading language of the implied consent notice was coercive per se and in fact did compel him to perform this act; thus (3) the admission of his breath test results violated his right against compelled self-incrimination under the Georgia Constitution and his due process rights. The Supreme Court agreed with Olevik that submitting to a breath test implicates a person’s right against compelled self-incrimination under the Georgia Constitution, and it overruled prior decisions that held otherwise. The Court nevertheless rejected Olevik’s facial challenges to the implied consent notice statute, because the language of that notice was not per se coercive. View "Olevik v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Demetrius McNeal was tried by jury and found guilty of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by first offender probationer. The charges stemmed from the 2010 shooting death of William Callison and the attempted robbery of David Reid. McNeal appealed, arguing the trial court erred in commenting on the evidence and in refusing to give his requested jury instruction on accident. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "McNeal v. Georgia" on Justia Law