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Appellant Maxim Cabaret, Inc. d/b/a Maxim Cabaret was a strip club in Sandy Springs, Georgia, and appellant Theo Lambros was the club’s operator, sole shareholder, and president (collectively “Maxim”). Maxim appealed the superior court's order granting summary judgment to the City of Sandy Springs on Maxim’s legal challenges to city ordinances. The Georgia Supreme Court held that Maxim’s challenges to prior versions of the City’s ordinances that have since been replaced or amended were moot; current adult business ordinances prohibiting the sale of alcohol at businesses that offer live nude entertainment constitutionally regulate negative secondary effects of strip clubs without unduly inhibiting free speech or expression; and because the City may constitutionally prohibit Maxim from obtaining a license to sell liquor on its premises under the City’s adult business licensing ordinances, Maxim lacked standing to challenge the City’s alcohol licensing regulations. View "Maxim Cabaret v. City of Sandy Springs" on Justia Law

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In a wrongful death lawsuit involving Georgia law, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia certified two questions to the Georgia Supreme Court. In September 1992, Delia Bibbs was involved in a car accident in which she sustained a head injury that left her in a coma. A few months after the accident, she filed, through her husband, a personal injury lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. The case was tried by a jury, but before it returned a verdict, Bibbs and Toyota entered into a “high-low” settlement agreement, which guaranteed some recovery for Bibbs in the event of a verdict for Toyota, but limited Toyota’s exposure in the event of a verdict for Bibbs. The jury returned a verdict for Bibbs, awarding substantial damages, including more than $400,000 for past medical expenses, $6 million for future life care expenses, and $30 million for past and future pain and suffering. Within the next month, Toyota paid the amount required under the settlement agreement, and Bibbs executed a written release that incorporated the settlement agreement. Expressly excluded from the release was “any claim for Delia Bibbs’ wrongful death, inasmuch as Delia Bibbs has not died and no such claim was made or could have been made in the [personal injury lawsuit].” Also in connection with the settlement, Bibbs dismissed her personal injury lawsuit with prejudice. More than 20 years later, Bibbs died, Together with her surviving children, Bibbs’s husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota, seeking damages for the full value of her life. The case was removed to federal district court, and Toyota filed a motion for partial summary judgment. Under Georgia law, the federal court asked whether the damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death action brought by survivors of a decedent limited by a settlement entered into by the decedent’s guardian in a previous personal injury suit settling all claims that were or could have been asserted in that suit. If the answer was yes, what components of wrongful death damages were barred? The Georgia Supreme Court answered the first question in the affirmative, and in response to the second question, explained that damages recovered or recoverable in an earlier personal injury lawsuit could not be recovered again in a wrongful death suit. View "Bibbs v. Toyota Motor Corporation, Inc." on Justia Law

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Rico Ballard appealed pro se the Superior Court’s denial of his motion and amended motion in arrest of judgment, which Ballard filed many years after his 1996 murder conviction. The Georgia Supreme Court did not reach the merits of Ballard’s claims, however, because the trial court lacked jurisdiction and should have dismissed his motion and amended motion. The Supreme Court therefore vacated the judgment and remanded with direction for the trial court to do so. View "Ballard v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Following the denial of his motion for new trial, Stephon Rickman appealed his convictions for felony murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in connection with the fatal shooting of Travious Floyd. Rickman challenged the trial court’s admission of certain photographic evidence and the effectiveness of his trial counsel. Finding the challenges to be unavailing, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Rickman v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Walter Caldwell appealed his conviction and sentence for felony murder while in the commission of aggravated assault in connection with the beating death of his girlfriend’s fifteen-month-old daughter Tynisha Carlton. His sole challenge was to the trial court’s refusal to strike three potential jurors for cause. Finding the challenge to be without merit, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Caldwell v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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In 2012, a jury found Charles Mitchell guilty of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault, arson, concealing the death of another, making a false statement, and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with the murder of Gboye Jalloh. Mitchell was sentenced to two life terms plus five years. His amended motion for new trial was denied, and Mitchell appealed, alleging on of error remarks made by the trial court during preliminary instructions to the jury venire. Finding no such errors, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Mitchell v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Brandon Taylor and his three co-indictees (Henry Finley, III, James Jordan, and Christopher Cushenberry) were charged with malice murder, three counts of felony murder, and other offenses arising out of the shooting death of Javarus Dupree. Taylor was tried jointly with Henry Grady Finley, whose convictions were previously affirmed. The jury found Taylor guilty of two counts of felony murder (predicated on criminal attempt to commit armed robbery and on conspiracy to commit armed robbery), as well as the underlying predicate crimes to those felony murder charges. Appellant joined the other three co-indictees when they met up with the victim under the ruse of setting up a drug “buy.” During the attempted robbery, Jordan shot the victim in the head, resulting in his death. The trial court denied appellant’s motion for new trial, and he appealed. Finding only error in the sentencing order, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for resentencing. View "Taylor v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted prisoner Cardell Abrams’s application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, posing the question of whether the habeas court correctly dismissed the petition for failure to file within the time allowed by OCGA 9- 14-42(c)(3). Because Abrams’s habeas petition was not timely pursuant to any of the alternative paragraphs of the statute of limitation in OCGA 9-14-42 (c), the habeas court correctly dismissed the petition as untimely. View "Abrams v. Laughlin" on Justia Law

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Demario Carman, along with three other men, was indicted for murder, armed robbery, and related crimes in connection with the 2012 death of Vanessa Thrasher at O.T.’s Lounge in Atlanta. The State gave notice of its intent to seek the death penalty, and the guilt/innocence phase of Carman’s trial began on November 17, 2014. The trial court declared a mistrial during the latter half of the guilt/innocence phase of Carman’s trial. In this appeal, Carman contended his right not to be subjected to double jeopardy and his right to counsel of his choosing would be violated if he were subjected to a new trial following the mistrial. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Carman’s plea in bar, thereby returning jurisdiction to the trial court for the purpose of its conducting a new trial. View "Carman v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Georgia Supreme COurt's review centered on whether the contract involved in this case between the City of Atlanta and a private business for the lease of retail concession space at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport created a taxable interest subject to ad valorem taxation by Clayton County. The City of Atlanta owned the Airport, which was partially in Clayton County outside the City’s boundaries. Appellee Aldeasa Atlanta Joint Venture entered into the written agreement with the City to lease space on two different concourses at the Airport for the non-exclusive rights to operate two duty free retail stores. Appellant Clayton County Board of Tax Assessors (“County”) issued real property tax assessments to Aldeasa for the 2011 and 2012 tax years on Aldeasa’s purported leasehold improvements on the two parcels involved in the Concessions Agreement and also on Aldeasa’s purported possessory interest in the two parcels. Aldeasa appealed the assessments and paid the tax pending the outcome of the appeal. The trial court found the Concessions Agreement created a usufruct interest in the property, and not an estate in real property; it rejected the County’s assertion that it was legally authorized to impose a property tax on usufructs located at the Airport; and it also rejected the County’s assertion that the Concessions Agreement created a taxable franchise. Accordingly, the trial court granted Aldeasa’s motion for summary judgement and denied the motion filed by the County. The County appealed, asserting four different taxable interests were created by the Concessions Agreement. The Supreme Court disagreed with the State's assertions and affirmed the trial court. View "Clayton County Bd. of Assessors v. Aldeasa Atlanta Joint Venture" on Justia Law