Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia

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In August 2014, Nicholas Hart was charged by the City of Sandy Springs with two counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct under Section 38-54 of the city’s municipal code. Hart filed a demand for jury trial with the Sandy Springs Municipal Court, which Judge Joseph Burford denied. In September 2014, following a bench trial, Judge Burford found Hart guilty and sentenced him to six months of probation on each count to run consecutively, a $1,000 fine on each count, and 30 days in jail to be served on 15 consecutive weekends. Hart appealed by filing a petition for certiorari in superior court, but that petition was dismissed because Hart failed to properly serve appellees and to file the record. Hart later filed a habeas petition against Judge Burford, Mayor Rusty Paul, and other Sandy Springs officials, alleging Judge Burford had improperly denied him his right to a jury trial and that his appellate counsel had provided ineffective assistance. The habeas court denied relief, and Hart filed this appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found Hard failed to demonstrate on record any adverse collateral consequence from his misdemeanor conviction, and dismissed his appeal as moot. View "Hart v. Burford" on Justia Law

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Anthony Lewis was tried by jury and convicted of murder and the unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with the 2010 shooting of Brandon Jones. Lewis appealed, claiming that the State violated his right to due process when it failed to disclose allegedly exculpatory evidence that it obtained while investigating a separate murder. The Georgia Supreme Court found no reasonable probability that the allegedly exculpatory evidence at issue would have affected the verdicts reached at Lewis’s trial, and therefore affirmed Lewis' conviction. View "Lewis v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Nyheim Gartrell was tried by jury and found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in connection with the death of James Edwards. He appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to support the verdicts. Finding the evidence sufficient, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Gartrell v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Archie Bennett was convicted of felony murder, arson, and concealing a death in connection with the shooting death of his ex-wife, Shirley Bennett. Appellant argued on appeal: (1) the trial court erred when it granted the State’s motion to exclude evidence of drugs found in Shirley’s system during her autopsy; and (2) his right to be present at trial was violated because the trial transcript does not show that he was present on at least three occasions. The Georgia Supreme Court found no merit to either contention and affirmed. View "Bennett v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Bobby Gray was convicted by jury for murder and related crimes. He appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict, the verdict was contrary to and against the weight of the evidence, and that the trial court and defense counsel made certain evidentiary errors. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed his convictions. View "Gray v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Traevis Griggs appealed his felony murder conviction for the April 2015 shooting death of Jewvyn Glover. Griggs argued on appeal that the trial court erred by convicting him of felony murder instead of voluntary manslaughter when the jury found him guilty of both. Because under Georgia's precedent the trial court did not err by entering a conviction and sentence on the felony murder count, and because the arguments Griggs made for deviation from that precedent were unpersuasive, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Griggs v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Pro se appellants Jack and Lynette Beavers (Appellants) appeal from the dismissal of their petition for habeas relief. Appellants are the parents of three minor children. On May 12, 2017, the children were taken from the Appellants’ custody by the Paulding County Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and law enforcement officers and placed in temporary foster care. Three days later, on May 15, 2017, DFCS filed a complaint in juvenile court seeking a dependency removal order (DRO). Appellants sought to regain custody of their children following the entry of the Adjudication and Disposition order, which largely found appellants failed to adequately address past issues of family violence and required them to participate in a family violence assessment and training program. Appellants filed a habeas petition in an attempt to regain custody. DFCS moved to dismiss the habeas petition, arguing that the question of the children’s dependency and custody was being decided in ongoing juvenile court proceedings, that the juvenile court had exclusive jurisdiction to hear dependency cases, and that habeas corpus was not an available remedy in this case. DFCS further argued that the proper method for the Appellants to challenge DFCS’s custody of the children was by appealing the juvenile court’s orders in the dependency case, which the Appellants have done. DFCS also argued that the Appellants’ claims were barred by res judicata. The habeas court dismissed the petition and alternately denied it, finding that it was improper because the dependency issues should be and were tried in juvenile court, a dispositive order had already been entered in the juvenile court proceedings, and that even if the habeas court were to assume jurisdiction over the habeas petition, petitioners were not entitled to any of the relief requested. Finding no error in that judgment, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Beavers v. Provost" on Justia Law

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Appellant Denirio Cunningham was tried and convicted of murder and related offenses in connection with crimes he committed against David Rucker, Ashley Gay, and their two minor children. Cunningham appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, that the trial court erred by improperly admitting evidence pursuant to OCGA 24-4- 404 (b), and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The Georgia Supreme Court reversed Cunningham’s convictions and sentences for false imprisonment and the related weapons charges because of insufficient evidence, but affirmed his remaining convictions and sentences. View "Cunningham v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Zjuantavious Marquis Jackson appealed his convictions for malice murder and other charges related to the shooting death of Detavious Milner at an April 2015 house party in Floyd County, Georgia. He argued on appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective when he argued against bifurcating a charge that Appellant possessed a firearm as a convicted felon. Appellant also argued that his post-trial discovery of material evidence requires that he be granted a new trial. The Supreme Court found appellant had not overcome the presumption that trial counsel’s decision to withdraw Appellant’s request for bifurcation was part of an objectively reasonable trial strategy, and Appellant had not satisfied the standard for obtaining a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. View "Jackson v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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In October 2014, a jury found Wright Greyhound Phoenix guilty of malice murder, aggravated assault, felony murder predicated on aggravated assault, and obstruction of an officer, all in connection with the stabbing death of Angela Whitten. Phoenix’s amended motion for new trial was denied, and he appealed, contending that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his pre-trial motion for continuance. The Georgia Supreme Court was unpersuaded, and affirmed. View "Phoenix v. Georgia" on Justia Law