Court Opinions

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Recent opinions released by Georgia's Appellate courts
Seabolt v. Norris, S15A1692
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (2/1/2016, 2/5/2016)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE: Habeas Corpus, Effective Assistance of Counsel, Murder, Aggravated Assault, Firearms Offense
The habeas court erred in ruling that the petitioner's appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to argue that the trial judge improperly limited trial counsel's closing argument to one hour and in ruling that appellate counsel would have succeeded on a claim that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to alleged comments about the petitioner's right to remain silent; however, the habeas court properly found that appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to argue that the trial court erred in not charging the jury on involuntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense of malice murder.
White v. State, S15A1826
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (2/1/2016, 2/5/2016)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE: Murder, Firearms Offense, Party to Crime, Effective Assistance of Counsel
Evidence that the defendant drove the shooter by the crime scene twice, slowed down while the shooter fired shots into a crowd and then sped off was sufficient to authorize the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was a party to the crimes.
State v. Tunkara, S15A1715
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (2/1/2016, 2/5/2016)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE: Interpreter, New Trial, Murder
The trial court did not abuse its broad discretion in granting the defendant's motion for new trial based on the inadequacy of his court-appointed interpreter, which resulted in the defendant not understanding what was happening at his trial.
Steele v. Steele, S15F1535
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (2/1/2016, 2/5/2016)
FAMILY LAW: Divorce, Settlement Agreement
The parties' divorce settlement agreement was enforceable, and the trial court properly incorporated it into the final divorce decree.
Howard v. State, S15A1584
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (2/1/2016, 2/4/2016)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE: Murder, Self-Defense, Effective Assistance of Counsel
There was sufficient evidence from which a reasonable trier of fact could reject the defendant's self-defense claim and find that he was the aggressor in the deadly confrontation.
Sears v. State, S15A1618
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (2/1/2016, 2/4/2016)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE: Murder, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Fatal Variance
The evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, was sufficient to authorize the jury to find the defendant guilty of malice murder, rather than voluntary manslaughter, as well as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Smith v. Ashford, S15A1515
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (2/1/2016, 2/4/2016)
TRUSTS AND ESTATES: Testamentary Power of Appointment, Estate Assets, Testator's Intent
The probate court erred in finding that, under the terms of his will, the decedent failed to exercise the testamentary power of appointment granted him by an irrevocable trust and in consequently requiring that the trust assets be distributed pursuant to the terms of the trust where no power of appointment had been exercised.
State v. Lee, S15A1502
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (2/1/2016, 2/4/2016)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE: Statement, Juveniles, Murder
The trial court properly concluded, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the 15-year-old defendant did not knowingly and intelligently waive his rights before giving his custodial statement to police.
Lockhart v. State, S15A1461
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (2/1/2016, 2/4/2016)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE: Murder, Firearms Offense, Effective Assistance of Counsel, Voir Dire
Defense counsel did not perform deficiently in failing to seek the dismissal of the entire panel of prospective jurors after one prospective juror stated during voir dire, in front of the entire panel, that he recognized the defendant from when he worked for the sheriff's department on the maximum security floor dealing with violent criminals.
In the Matter of Tashawna L. Griffieth, S16Y0439
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (2/1/2016, 2/3/2016)
LEGAL PROFESSION: Voluntary Surrender of License
The Supreme Court accepted an attorney's petition for voluntary surrender of her license to practice law following her felony conviction for forgery.
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