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Category Archives: Opinions and Analysis

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New SCOTUS Case Will Have Big Impact on Some Georgia Sex Offenders

Posted in Opinions and Analysis

In a per curium opinion (pdf), the United States Supreme Court has held that the placement of a tracking device on a person is a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, even if the person is compelled for life to wear the device as part of a sentence. As summarized by Robinson Meyer… Continue Reading

Does the Jury Have the Right to Know About Mandatory Minimums?

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

Jarvis Taylor was on trial for committing an armed robbery with an air gun. Because his prior criminal history included theft by receiving stolen property, possession of a tool for the commission of a crime, and aggravated assault for his actions during a jail riot, a conviction for the armed robbery would have meant a… Continue Reading

If Juries Could Impose the Sentence

Posted in Opinions and Analysis

In Georgia, juries generally don’t get to decide the sentence. Only where the State is seeking death does the jury get a hand in sentencing. Not only do Georgia juries not get a say in sentencing decisions, our law is designed not to let them know a great deal about what might happen at sentencing…. Continue Reading

The Economic Reason why Zero Tolerance Will Remain in Place at Public Schools

Posted in Opinions and Analysis

According to the American Bar Association Journal, public schools nationwide are backing down from entrenched zero-tolerance policies. While public school administrators may sincerely like to move toward a system where they can exercise discretion in the handling of serious disciplinary cases, I don’t foresee real change on the horizon because funding systems rewards expulsion of… Continue Reading

New ABA Guidelines on Monitoring Jurors Via Social Media

Posted in Motion for New Trial, Opinions and Analysis

The American Bar Association has released a formal ethics opinion regarding how far attorneys may go in monitoring social media postings of jurors. Attorneys or their representatives may monitor any activity that is publicly available, but they may not “friend” a juror in an effort to monitor their private social media postings. Nor may attorneys… Continue Reading

Georgia Habeas Corpus and the 1st Amendment

Posted in Administrative Appeals, Opinions and Analysis

The Volokh Conspiracy has post up about Strine v. Delaware Coalition for Open Government, Inc., a case the tests whether a Delaware statute that provides that judges may act as arbitrators in civil cases is constitutional under the First Amendment where the arbitration sessions are closed to the public. Professor Volokh give a little background… Continue Reading

Where Fundamentalism and the Law Meet Somebody is Headed to Prison

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

Legislators in Virginia are contemplating changes to the law in response to MacDonald v. Moose (4th Cir. 2013), a case that struck down Virginia’s law that prohibited non-genital sex generally. Specifically, legislation has been introduced that would make it a felony for an adult to engage in non-genital sex with a minor between age 15… Continue Reading

Court Reporters and Digital Audio Recording: Time for a Change?

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

My new favorite law blog is Judge Richard Kopf’s Hercules and the Umpire. Lately, it’s been the first place I click on my reader. His blog is conversational and offers a view of the Federal Court from the other side of the bench. A recent post of his was particularly spot on. It begins “For… Continue Reading

New Field Sobriety/Miranda Case Important at Several Levels

Posted in Georgia Court of Appeals, Opinions and Analysis, Uncategorized

The Court of Appeals, with a panel made up of Judges Dillard, Ellington, and Phipps, has reversed an order granting a motion to suppress from the State Court of Fayette County. I write about this case because it further develops the law in the area of Miranda and field sobriety testing and because it illustrates… Continue Reading

Video Interview: Discussing Gun Control & the Second Amendment in the Supreme Court with LXBN TV

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

Following up on my post on the subject, I had the chance to speak with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN regarding just how far gun control can go under the Second Amendment and when this was last tested by our country’s judicial system. In the interview, I discuss Heller v. District of Columbia, the last Second Amendment… Continue Reading

How Far Could Gun Control Constitutionally Go?

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

In light of recent events, gun control is the subject of discussion. My practice touches upon guns. Generally it arises in the context of clients who have been accused or convicted of being felons in possession of a firearm or of being in possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. I have… Continue Reading

New SCOG Opinion Sets Out Rules for Voir Dire in Death Penalty Cases

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

A recent Georgia Supreme Court case on jury selection provides a framework for determining what a case’s subject matter is. There is a fine line between asking juror to prejudge the facts and figuring out if jurors cannot be fair. A few words about the problem in the case first. Full disclosure, I was amicus counsel… Continue Reading

Scalia’s and Garner’s New Book Suggests Principled Approach

Posted in Opinions and Analysis, Writing

Readers of this blog may be surprised to know that I am a Scalia fan. Criminal defense lawyers who don’t like Jusice Scalia just don’t understand him yet. There is much to commend Jutice Scalia to a criminal defense attorney. He penned some of the most significant opinions in the last decade on the Confrontation… Continue Reading

Ex-Magistrate’s Lawsuit Blackens Eye of Ga. Judiciary

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis, Supreme Court of Georgia

This won’t end well. Anthony Peters, the former Catoosa County assistant Magistrate Judge has filed a civil rights suit against the his former boss as well as the Sheriff of Catoosa County. When I read Joy Lukachick’s article (hat tip to her) in the Chattanooga Times Free Press about the lawsuit, I had to pull the… Continue Reading

Williams v. Illinois Asks More Questions than it Answers

Posted in Opinions and Analysis

Williams v. Illinois, the newest Confrontation Clause case from the Supreme Court, leaves unresolved some key issues on the Confrontation Clause and its applicability to lab reports. Some things to note: Williams has no majority opinion It is very fact specific A similar case with a better set of facts might go the other way… Continue Reading

In Memoriam: Strickland v. Washington

Posted in Opinions and Analysis

While working on a brief, we discovered a Georgia Supreme Court case that I was sorry to have missed when it came out (hat tip to Margaret Flynt). A paradigm shifted in 2010, and I completely missed it. From an optimistic viewpoint, this case shows that almost nothing adds up to ineffective assistance of counsel. To… Continue Reading

SCOTUS Requires Effective Assistance at Plea Bargain Stage: Absurd?

Posted in Opinions and Analysis, Uncategorized

Today, the Supreme Court released two opinions that define standards for defense lawyers during criminal plea bargains. First, in Lafler v. Cooper, No. 10-209, 566 U.S. ___ (2012), recall that Cooper was charged with assault with intent to murder and possession of a firearm. Cooper rejected a plea bargain after his attorney (wrongly) informed him… Continue Reading

Erroneous Verdict Form = New Trial

Posted in Opinions and Analysis, Supreme Court of Georgia, Uncategorized

On Tuesday, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a Fulton man’s convictions would be reversed due to an improperly worded verdict form. Cheddersingh v. State, S11A1929. In 2008, Soniel Cheddersingh was convicted of malice murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of firearm by… Continue Reading

GPDSC’s First Executive Director Weighs In

Posted in Attorney-Client Relationship, News, Opinions and Analysis

Aly Palmer, a reporter with the Fulton Daily Report, read the exchanges of the last few days and reported on it at the ATLaw Blog. Michael Mears, an Associate Professor at the John Marshall School of Law and the man who was GPDSC’s very first Executive Directer when it was created, wrote a very thoughtful… Continue Reading

My Reply to the Circuit Public Defender

Posted in Attorney-Client Relationship, News, Opinions and Analysis, Uncategorized

To catch you up to speed, I recently blogged about GPDSC’s recent argument to the Supreme Court of Georgia that public defenders should have the right to represent clients in the same circuit public defender’s office even when there is a conflict in the representation. Mr. Samuel Merritt, a Circuit Public Defender disagreed. I posted… Continue Reading

The Implications of the New SCOTUS Eyewitness Case on Georgia Cases

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

Adam Liptak of the New York Times reports that the Supreme Court has held that courts are not required to conduct pre-trial hearings to determine whether the circumstances of an eyewitness identification were so unreliable that the jury shouldn’t hear about the lineup. The Court has held that, only in instances of police misconduct in… Continue Reading

Even More Reasons to Run From GPDSC and a Modest Proposal

Posted in Attorney-Client Relationship, News, Opinions and Analysis

A blog post I wrote a week ago about GPDSC’s alliance with the Attorney General’s Office to oppose the Georgia Bar’s formal advisory opinion regarding imputed conflicts for indigent defendants inspired a few comments over on my Facebook page. A friend of mine who is a former assistant public defender commented: The absence of conflict-free… Continue Reading

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Posted in Opinions and Analysis

For those of you who don’t know, the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon is that weird occurrence where you hear about something for the first time and then encounter it again shortly afterwards. (Don’t worry, I didn’t know that term either until I searched for it on Google. And if there is any truth to this phenomenon you… Continue Reading