Court Opinions

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Recent opinions released by Georgia's Appellate courts
Pope v. The State, s17a0615
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (6/19/2017, 7/11/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to vacate a void and illegal sentence because his sentence of life without the possibility of parole was void under former O.C.G.A. § 17-10-32.1 since the sentencing court failed to make a specific finding of a statutory aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt contemporaneously with the sentencing. 
Carpenter v. McMann et al, A17A0505
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/19/2017, 7/11/2017)
CIVIL PRACTICE:
The trial court properly denied defendant's motion to transfer venue in plaintiffs' suit arising from an automobile collision, because defendant was a joint tort-feasor with a John Doe defendant and venue was thus proper either in the county where the accident occurred or in plaintiffs' county of residence.
Churchill Financial Management Corp. v. Clearnexus, Inc., A17A0535
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/19/2017, 7/10/2017)
ADR:
The trial court erred in confirming an arbitration award and in finding that the arbitrator had jurisdiction over the proceeding on the basis that a secured consumer lending entity chartered by a Native American tribe had waived tribal sovereign immunity by signing the agreement with the included arbitration clause, as the entity was not the tribe itself and was required to follow a specific procedure in order to waive tribal sovereign immunity under its charter, which it did not do here.
Hardin v. Hardin, S17F0576
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (6/19/2017, 7/10/2017)
FAMILY LAW:
In a divorce action, the trial court did not err in concluding as a matter of law that certain disability benefits issued pursuant to an insurance policy were non-marital property and were not subject to equitable division.
Atkinson v. The State, s17a0611
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (6/19/2017, 7/10/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
Although the evidence supported defendant's convictions for malice murder, aggravated assault, attempted armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and various other offenses, the trial court erred in merging certain counts and in failing to merge certain counts for sentencing purposes.
Smith et al. v. DiFrancesco, A17A0404
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/19/2017, 7/10/2017)
TORTS:
The trial court erred in granting summary judgment to defendant doctor on plaintiff doctor's claim of defamation per se based on defendant's transmission of a letter to patients, in which defendant called into question plaintiff's ability to practice medicine, as the statement at issue constituted defamation per se and the evidence did not authorize the trial court to conclude, as a matter of law, that the statement was privileged.
Yancey v. The State, A17A0264
Georgia Court of Appeals, Criminal Case (6/16/2017, 7/7/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to quash the indictment against him for second-degree burglary because he was performing his official duties as an officer when he allegedly committed the burglary and he was therefore entitled to notice and to make a sworn statement when the case was presented to the grand jury pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 17-7-52 and 45-11-4 but he was not afforded those rights. 
Costa et al. v. Hamilton State Bank, A17A0249
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/19/2017, 7/7/2017)
CREDITORS AND DEBTORS RIGHTS:
The trial court properly found that guarantors were liable to bank on their guaranties but erred in finding that bank established its damages after guarantors defaulted on their obligations under the guaranties and thus erred in granting summary judgment to bank as to the amount of damages.
Woods v. The State, A17A0311
Georgia Court of Appeals, Criminal Case (6/16/2017, 7/7/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The evidence supported defendant's convictions for voluntary manslaughter and simple assault after he and others retaliated against the victim for hitting and robbing another man, and defendant failed to prove that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request a jury instruction on involuntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense, because defendant maintained that he was at another location at the time of the incident and such an instruction would have been completely inconsistent with his alibi defense.
Lundy v. The State, A17A0607
Georgia Court of Appeals, Criminal Case (6/15/2017, 7/7/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The evidence supported defendant's conviction for kidnapping with bodily injury and the trial court did not err in denying defendant's requests to charge the jury on the lesser included offenses of false imprisonment and kidnapping because there was no evidence raising the lesser offenses.
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