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 recently in criminal cases, this Court’s level of engagement has been quite intense, and the writing has been good. The odd thing is that, while I obviously do not favor pro-prosecution decisions, I have always had a secret enjoyment of conservative judicial writing. Scalia opinions, for instance, great to read. I also root for the bad guy in movies.
I just happen to think those opinions are more fun to read as dissents. On the bright side, an engaged court perhaps seems more relevant to the other two branches of government in Georgia. In recent years, it seems like the other two branches of government would like to be the only two branches of government.
So, here is a summary of the three certs granted by the Court this week:
In Yearly v. State, the Court granted a cert. request and directed the lawyers to address the following question: May a party make a stand-alone request for the production of documents under The Uniform Act to Secure the Attendance of Witnesses from Without the State, OCGA § 24-10-90 et seq.? The opinion from the Court below appears to be a case of first impression. This issue is one where guidance is needed.
In Hammond v. State, the Court granted a cert. petition and directed the lawyers to address these questions:
1. Whether the holding of Garza v. State, 284 Ga. 696 (670 SE2d 73) (2008), applies retroactively. See Dixon v. State, 303 Ga. App. 517 (693 SE2d 900) (2010); Abernathy v. State, 299 Ga. App. 897 (685 SE2d 734) (2009).
2. If it does, whether the trial court’s refusal to give the requested instruction on asportation was reversible error.
In Garza, the Court held the State must prove more than slight movement to sustain a kidnapping charge. The opinion before the Court of Appeals now poses an issue of first impression.
Finally, in State v. Thackston, the Court granted cert. to address whether the exclusionary rule applies to probation revocation hearings as a matter of statutory law, federal constitutional law, or state constitutional law. There are two more questions, but this one is scary enough.
It’s an interesting and exciting question, but it is better in the abstract than as a question to the Court with the potential for a bad rule. The ruling below raises several important issues.