Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

GA Supreme Court Update

Posted by Maggie on October 31, 2007

I’m finally getting to going through the September and October opinions of the GA Supreme Court on criminal matters.  Cases of note:

Jones v. State, S07A0573.  The issue Jones prevails on her is a Motion to Suppress for a search of his home.  Jones was on probation (but this decision won’t apply to those cases where a 4th amendment waiver is part of sentencing), police had an arrest warrant but not a search warrant.  They searched the home for 45 minutes.  No exigent circumstances. Jones has already pled guilty to murder charges, but sentencing is still pending.  Case is remanded.

State v. Pye and State v. Chambers, S07A0689, S07A0894.  Pye and Chambers were co-defendants in a murder case.  The victim had stolen property of Pye’s.  Pye came in voluntarily to discuss the theft after the items were recovered upon the victim’s death.  During his discussion with police, officers interrogated him regarding murdering the victim, got a statement, gave Miranda, took another statement.  After Pye’s statement implicated Chambers, officers cuffed Chambers, took him to the police station, interrogated him without Miranda, gave Miranda, then interrogated again.  The Court finds that Missouri v. Seibert is on point and that the only statements that could be allowed in were Pye’s voluntary statements before he was asked about the murder. 

Lyons v. State, S07A1061.  A little note in a mostly unnoteworthy opinion.  False confession experts still don’t seem to have enough scientific certainty to be allowed.  Shame. 

Roberts v. State, S07A0600.  Another note while I was reading a run-of-the-mill opinion.  There’s a Batson issue brought up on appeal and sadly there is Georgia caselaw allowing a race-neutral reason for a strike to be that they are single and unemployed.  Why?  The prosecutor said that meant they didn’t have enough ties to the community to be concerned about law enforcement.  WTF?  What it usually means is that they’re discriminating on the basis of class rather than race.  Which is so much better.

Nguyen v. State, S07A0678.  Nguyen filed a habeas after a municipal court gave her a $200 fine.  The lower court threw it out for procedural reasons and because a fine wasn’t enough to trigger habeas, Supreme Court sent it back saying $200 is enough for habeas.

Walker v. State, S07P0687.  A death penalty review, I’ll have to check their appendix to see if they learned anything from the AJC expose.

Jackson v. State, S07A0824.  The dissent makes a very good point here.  Most of the issues on appeal are regarding improper comment by the prosecution.  The majority minimizes it, but the dissent shows just how bad it was.  Unfortunately, since no objection was made at trial, it’s under ineffective assistance review which is difficult.  Read through the dissent for transcript tidbits and be ready to object next time you hear something like it.  Too bad this one was 4-3.

Taylor v. State, S07A0979.  The Court says it’s totally okay to be found not guilty by reason of insanity for one crime (agg assault) but guilty of another (murder) even though they were contemporaneous actions.

State v. Hemdani, S07A1560.  An example of what it takes for habeas challenging the knowingness and voluntariness of a guilty plea.


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