Court Opinions

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Recent opinions released by Georgia's Appellate courts
Austin v. The State, A17A1151
Georgia Court of Appeals, Criminal Case (10/5/2017, 10/27/2017)
JUDGES:
The trial court did not err in denying defendant's petition to seal records pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 42-8-62.1, Georgia's statute limiting public access to first offender records in the custody of the clerk of court, because defendant's guilty plea to repeated violations of public trust in connection with his dental profession authorized the trial court to conclude that defendant's interest in having the documents sealed was far outweighed by the public's interest in having the records available.
Shoenthal et al. v. Dekalb County Employees Retirement System Pension Board et al, A17A1065
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (9/28/2017, 10/26/2017)
ATTORNEYS FEES:
The trial court erred in awarding attorney fees to defendant under O.C.G.A. § 9-15-14 because plaintiffs' claims regarding the distribution of their late father's pension benefits were not frivolous, plaintiffs did not lack substantial justification for bringing their claims and those claims did not suffer from a complete absence of any justiciable issue of law or fact.
Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company v. Rockefeller, A17A0943
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (9/29/2017, 10/26/2017)
INSURANCE LAW:
Insurer was liable up to the $100,000 combined coverage limit of insured's four uninsured motorist insurance policies for losses he sustained in an automobile accident that were not covered by his workers' compensation award or his settlement with the other driver's insurer.
Taylor v. The State, S17A1033
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/26/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
In defendant's murder trial, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing State to cross-examine defendant about an altercation with his girlfriend that resulted in the girlfriend kicking him out of her car because he punched her in the face, as defendant had testified dishonestly about the reasons why his girlfriend kicked him out of her car and so the evidence was admissible for impeachment purposes. 
Blackmon v. The State, S17A0993
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/25/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
Defendant failed to prove his several ineffective assistance of counsel claims following his convictions for felony murder and other crimes arising out of a drug deal gone wrong.
Hampton v. The State, S17A0984
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/25/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The evidence supported defendant's convictions for malice murder and related crimes after he fatally shot a man at a bar where defendant sometimes worked as a security guard. 
Moran v. The State, S17A0967
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/25/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The evidence supported defendant's convictions for malice murder and related crimes and the trial court did not err in admitting photographs of text messages on defendant's cell phone, as defendant had executed a Fourth Amendment waiver as a condition of her probation for other crimes and there was reasonable suspicion that defendant was involved in a murder.
Davis v. The State, S17A0949
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/24/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The evidence supported defendant's convictions for malice murder, criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and defendant failed to prove his several ineffective assistance of counsel claims. 
The State v. Wilkins, S17A0873
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/24/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting defendant's pretrial motion in limine to exclude incriminating statements his co-defendant made with regard to a double murder, as the evidence supported the trial court's conclusion that the co-defendant did not make the challenged statements "in furtherance of the conspiracy" and the statements, therefore, did not fall within the exception to the hearsay rule provided by O.C.G.A. § 24-8-801 subsection (d) (2) (E).
Williams v. The State, S17A0764
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/24/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The evidence supported defendant's conviction for the malice murder of his wife and any error in the trial court's decisions to admit evidence of defendant's prior bad acts and allow State to perform a demonstration was harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence of guilt. 
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