Court Opinions

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Recent opinions released by Georgia's Appellate courts
Carter v. The State, S17A1126
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/30/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
In defendant's trial for malice murder and other crimes, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing State to admit into evidence a recorded conversation in which defendant and a third party discussed the crimes at issue and the evidence supported defendant's convictions. 
Vargo v. Adams, S17A1302
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (10/2/2017, 10/30/2017)
REAL PROPERTY:
The trial court properly denied appellant's petition for equitable partition of real property he held with his former girlfriend as joint tenants with the right of survivorship because equitable partition is not available to unmarried parties who own property as joint tenants with the right of survivorship.
Johnson v. The State, S17A1105
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/27/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The trial court erred in denying defendant's motion for new trial following his convictions for murder and related crimes, because defendant was deprived of an adequate trial transcript and he was thus denied his right to appeal his convictions.
Freeman v. The State, S17A1040
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/27/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The Supreme Court reversed defendant's conviction for one count of disorderly conduct pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-11-39 subsection (a) (1) because defendant's act of raising his middle finger to a pastor during a church service was a constitutionally protected act that did not place the pastor in reasonable fear for his safety.
Shuman v. The State, S17A1229
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (10/2/2017, 10/27/2017)
APPEALS:
The trial court properly denied defendant's motion for an out-of-time appeal from his 1990 murder convictions because he failed to allege that ineffective assistance by his plea counsel was the reason that he had not filed a timely appeal.
In The Matter Of James Edward Watkins, Sr., S17Y1842
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (10/2/2017, 10/27/2017)
LEGAL PROFESSION:
The Supreme Court disbarred an attorney for multiple derelictions related to his deficient representation and abandonment of two unrelated clients.
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. 
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