Court Opinions

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Recent opinions released by Georgia's Appellate courts
Olvera v. University Sys. of GA's Bd. of Regents, S15G1130
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (2/1/2016, 2/8/2016)
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: Sovereign Immunity
Sovereign immunity barred the declaratory judgment action filed by non-U.S. citizen college students, who were beneficiaries of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and sought a declaration that they were entitled to in-state tuition at institutions in the University System of Georgia.
Barrow v. Mikell, S15G1168
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (2/1/2016, 2/8/2016)
APPEALS: Timeliness
The appellant filed a timely petition for judicial review of the denial of his application for a new driver's license after his license was canceled.
GeorgiaCarry.Org Inc. v. James, S15A1901
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (2/1/2016, 2/8/2016)
JUDGES: Mandamus, Recusal
Because one appellant's claim for costs and attorney fees in a mandamus action was moot and the other appellant lacked standing, it was incumbent upon the trial court to dismiss their claims, and the Supreme Court therefore remanded the case to the trial court with direction that it vacate the grant of summary judgment to the appellee and enter an order of dismissal.
Smith v. State, S15A1705
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (2/1/2016, 2/8/2016)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE: Murder, Armed Robbery, Firearms Offense, Sentencing, Merger, Right to Be Present at Trial, Effective Assistance of Counsel
Although the defendant had the right to be present during the discussion that led to a prospective juror's removal for cause, he acquiesced in the juror's removal in his absence, as he was present in the courtroom on four later occasions when the juror's removal was expressly noted but he raised no question or concern about her removal.
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.
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