Georgia Criminal Appellate Law Blog Offering Insight and Commentary on Appellate Law and Criminal Trial Practice

Category Archives: Opinions and Analysis

Subscribe to Opinions and Analysis RSS Feed

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

Amanda Knox, the Appeals Process, and Moneyball

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis, Preservation of Error, Uncategorized

Today, my recent post on Amanda Knox was quoted by Ronald V. Miller in his Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog. He picks up on my point about the Knox case and other high-profile cases with an unexpected result. For clients and potential clients, such cases reinforce the often mistaken idea that, if you keep on slugging until… Continue Reading

Managing Expectations in the Wake of the Amanda Knox Win

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

I’ve already been asked about it several times. For the criminal trial lawyer, the Casey Anthony verdict was the result that made it difficult to counsel clients on whether to accept a negotiate plea rather than risk a trial against an overwhelming case. Several colleagues have told me that clients have balked in the face… Continue Reading

When Judges Tell Juries About Appeals

Posted in Opinions and Analysis, Uncategorized

There’s an old bright line rule about whether judges should mention the appellate process to juries. The subtext is that you shouldn’t do it at all. The literal rule is that you shouldn’t do it in a way suggesting that the defendant is going to lose the trial. The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed on old… Continue Reading

Granted Petitions on Criminal Cases for the Month of September

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

The Supreme Court has granted two petitions for certiorari and one application for discretionary appeal so far this month. Below is an overview of each case Bunn v. State In its Order granting Cert., from September 6, 2011, the Court notes that it is particularly concerned with the following issue: Does the Child Hearsay Statute… Continue Reading

New UGA Law Review Article Takes Georgia to Task for the Way We Handle IAC Claims

Posted in Attorney-Client Relationship, Motion for New Trial, News, Opinions and Analysis, Uncategorized

I returned from vacation pleased to find in my in basket at the office a copy of Ryan C. Tuck’s article from the Georgia Law Review on the confusing state of the law as it relates to ineffective assistance of counsel in Georgia. The article is titled “Ineffective-Assistance-of-Counsel Blues: Navigating the Muddy Waters of Georgia… Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Georgia Grants Cert. Petitions in Three Criminal Cases

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

The Supreme Court of Georgia is back in full swing. The Court has already heard oral argument in several sessions. Yesterday, the Court granted certiorari petitions on three criminal cases. Each case has important implications for the criminal defense bar. While I am not entirely thrilled with some of the decisions the Court has made… Continue Reading

How to Lose Your Appeal: Ignore the Court’s Rules / Make the Court Find Your Argument

Posted in Opinions and Analysis, Writing

It’s one thing to get practice tips from judges at a seminar or in a bar publication. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Yvette Miller has some tips in appellate advocacy in this Month’s Georgia Bar Journal (PDF page 28 – worth the wait for it to download). It’s quite another thing to get advocacy advice… Continue Reading

11th Circuit Reverses Conviction on Failure to Charge on Reliance on Advice

Posted in 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, Opinions and Analysis, Preservation of Error

Professor Ellen S. Podgor reports in her White Collar Criminal Prof Blog that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed several convictions in Kottwitz.pdf because of a trial court’s failure to charge the jury on the defendants’s good faith reliance upon an accountant’s advice. The Court has also held that, regardless of the strength… Continue Reading

Preserve the Record Alert: Felon in Possession Statutes are Low-Hanging Fruit

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis, Preservation of Error

Douglas A. Berman, Professor at Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University reports at his blog, Sentencing Law and Policy, that the Seventh Circuit has suggested that a non-violent felon might prevail on a Second Amendment challenge if he brings an as-applied challenge to the Federal Felon in Possession statute (18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(1)))…. Continue Reading

U.S. v. Irey: The Return of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines in the 11th Circuit

Posted in 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, News, Opinions and Analysis

There is a moment in most great horror movies where the evil presence/bad guy/ghost/homicidal maniac takes out a character who has it coming. For a moment, the audience applauds the wicked antagonist. Think of Jason from Friday the 13th taking out a weaselly teen or the scene in Jurassic Park where the velociraptors eat Dennis… Continue Reading

Client Autonomy on the Front Lines as a Georgia Appeals Lawyer

Posted in News, Opinions and Analysis

From Bob Mabry at his blog, Courts and Writing, I learned about an article by University of Georgia law professor Erica J Hashimoto in the latest issue of the Boston University Law Review. According to Professor Hashimoto, the criminal client should have a complete right to represent himself at trial and on appeal. Also, when… Continue Reading

A New Approach to Felony Murder and a New Template to Attack Precedent in Georgia

Posted in Opinions and Analysis, Supreme Court of Georgia

There are two big stories in the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision in Jackson v. State. The first is that the rule of causation for felony murder that had been in place for thirty years has been changed. The second is that the majority has provided a framework for any appellant to use in future cases… Continue Reading