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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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Carlo Simpson was convicted of felony murder and other crimes in relation to the 2013 shooting death of Shakhira Dunson. Simpson and Dunson had a child together; when she ended the relationship, testimony at trial revealed he responded by telling her: “[I]f I can’t have you I will make sure nobody else will.” Simpson appealed his conviction and argued the trial court plainly erred in instructing the jury on a method of committing aggravated assault that was not alleged in the indictment. Because the trial court specifically instructed the jury that the State was required to prove every material allegation of the indictment, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Simpson’s convictions. View "Simpson 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

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Thyrell Donaldson was tried by jury and convicted of felony murder, aggravated assault, and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, all in connection with the 2015 shooting death of Robert White, Jr. Donaldson appealed, contending the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court erred when it refused to grant him a new trial on the “general grounds” under OCGA 5-5-20 and 5-5-21. Upon review of the record and briefs, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Donaldson’s convictions for felony murder and one of the firearm possession counts, but due to a merger error, the Court vacated his convictions for aggravated assault and the other firearm-possession count. View "Donaldson v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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This Court granted applications for certificates of probable cause from Mark Jason Jones, Kenneth Eric Gardiner, and Dominic Brian Lucci to appeal the denials of their petitions for writs of habeas corpus. Jones, Gardiner, and Lucci were tried and found guilty of malice murder in the shooting death of Stanley Jackson, as well as of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The three defendants were Army servicemen stationed at Fort Stewart, near Savannah. Defendants were Caucasian; Jackson was African-American. Evidence presented at the November, 1992 trial showed that, during the day of January 31, 1992, Jones sought to borrow some equipment from a fellow soldier, Sylvia Wallace, telling Wallace he was going to Savannah that night because “he had somebody that he was going to shoot.” When Wallace enquired who that would be, Jones replied, “I got a black guy up there I got to get.” A witness stated he saw two men fire military-type automatic or semiautomatic rifles through the window of a 1992 black Chevrolet Cavalier while a third man drove the car; Jackson was killed in the shooting. The Georgia Supreme Court determined, in light of the totality of the circumstances, confidence in the outcome of the trial was undermined by the State’s failure to provide exculpatory evidence to the defense. It therefore reversed denials of each defendant’s petition for habeas corpus and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Jones v. Medlin" on Justia Law

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Mye Brindle worked as a housekeeper and personal assistant to Joe Rogers, who was married. During her employment with Rogers, the two became involved sexually. In June 2012, Brindle hired attorneys David Cohen and John Butters to represent her on a potential claim of sexual harassment. Without Rogers’ knowledge or consent to be video recorded, Brindle allegedly used a “spy” camera to secretly record video of Rogers naked in his bathroom and bedroom, as well as video of a sexual encounter between Rogers and herself inside his bedroom. The video recording was delivered to attorney Cohen, and Brindle resigned from her position with Rogers. Rogers received a demand letter from attorney Cohen relating to the potential sexual harassment claim that he and Butters were prepared to file on Brindle’s behalf. After extensive civil litigation between Rogers and Brindle, Brindle and her attorneys (collectively, “defendants”) were charged in the Superior Court of Fulton County with conspiracy to commit extortion under OCGA 16-8-16 (Count 1), conspiracy to commit unlawful surveillance (Count 2), and conducting unlawful surveillance under OCGA 16-11-62 (Count 3). Brindle was also charged individually with one additional count of conducting unlawful surveillance under OCGA 16-11-62 (Count 4). The indictment was largely based on the defendants’ prior actions involving an alleged conspiracy to secretly video record and then actually record Rogers in the bathroom and bedroom of his home, and then sending Rogers the litigation demand letter. Defendants filed a general demurrer to dismiss the indictment against them and to have the statutes underlying the charged crimes declared unconstitutional. The trial court issued an order granting defendants’ general demurrer, finding the indictment failed to show that defendants committed any crimes under the relevant statutes. The trial court went on to conclude that OCGA 16-8-16 (a) (3) was unconstitutionally overbroad on its face, and further declared that OCGA sections 16- 11-62 (2) and 16-11-66 (a) were unconstitutionally vague because “persons of ordinary intelligence [could not] be expected to determine what is permitted and prohibited by these [two] statutes.” Accordingly, the trial court dismissed all counts of the indictment against all of defendants. The State appealed. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that: (1) while the trial court properly dismissed Count 1 of the indictment, the trial court erred by reaching the constitutional issue relating to OCGA 16-8-16 (a) (3) in support of this result; and (2) the trial court erred in dismissing Counts 2, 3, and 4 of the indictment and in concluding that OCGA sections 16-11-62 (2) and 16-11-66 (a) were unconstitutionally vague. View "Georgia v. Cohen" on Justia Law

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Appellant Jelani Asim Anthony was convicted of malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. On appeal, Anthony contended the trial court erred by: (1) refusing to suppress an identification obtained as the result of an allegedly flawed lineup; and (2) failing to grant his motion for new trial after new evidence relating to an alternate suspect was revealed. Furthermore, Anthony claimed his trial counsel and post-trial counsel were ineffective. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Anthony v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Diversified Holdings, LLP (“Diversified”) and the City of Suwanee (“the City”) were involved in a zoning dispute regarding the status of 30 acres of undeveloped land located in the City (“Property”). On the merits of the issues presented, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision that there was no error in denying Diversified’s application to rezone the Property. But the Court clarified that the “substantially advances” standard that derives from constitutional due process guarantees had no place in an eminent domain or inverse condemnation proceeding. “Consequently, where a landowner claims harm from a particular zoning classification, inverse condemnation is not an available remedy unless the landowner can meet the separate and distinct requirements for such a claim.” The Court did not reach the City’s contention on cross appeal that the trial court erred in concluding that Diversified showed a substantial detriment based on the value of the Property as currently zoned versus its value if rezoned. View "Diversified Holdings, LLP v. City of Suwanee" on Justia Law

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A jury found appellant Eric Thompson guilty of two counts of malice murder in connection with the deaths of Andre Geddis and Melody Keller. On appeal, Thompson contended the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence, including character evidence and hearsay evidence, and denying his motion for continuance. Thompson also challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the guilty verdicts and alleged his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to a portion of the State’s closing argument. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed that some of the challenged character evidence was improperly admitted and that the admission was not harmless. Therefore, the Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. View "Thompson v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Davoris Hodges was found guilty by jury of two counts of felony murder, armed robbery, and two counts of aggravated assault related to the shooting death of Khristal Wright, a Johnson County deputy sheriff. He was found not guilty of malice murder. Finding only an error in the trial court’s calculation of Appellant’s sentence, the Georgia Supreme Court vacated his sentence and remanded for resentencing. The Court affirmed in all other respects. View "Hodges v. Georgia" on Justia Law