Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Court of Appeals Update (August 18, 2009)

Decisions from 8/18/2009


State v. Christopher Giddens, in child sex case, trial court committed plain error in allowing DSS worker to testify that her investigation had substantiated Defendant as the perpetrator of sex abuse. This constituted an opinion on the two children witnesses credibility, which was impermissible even though the worker was not giving an expert opinion. The implication was that DSS had conducted a thorough review and come to the conclusion that the children were telling the truth.

Judge Bryant dissented.

State v. Curtis Jackson, during a routine traffic stop, an officer checked the defendant's registration and license, found them valid and found no warrants on the defendant. Nonetheless, the officer, before returning the documents, asked for consent to search, did so, and found drugs. HELD: that the search was the fruit of an illegal seizure. Once the warrant and license came up good, the stop was over and asking about drugs, without returning the documents, constituted a seizure that went beyond the reasonable scope of the traffic stop.

State v. Jimmy Ward, court erred by (1) allowing state SBI lab analyst to identify pills as controlled substances by pharmaceutical markings, rather than conducting chemical analysis; (2) allowing 404(b) prior bad act evidence of acts that were previously charged and dismissed.

State v. James Willis, trial court erred when it amended defendant's sentence for larceny of a dog, without providing notice, from "do not possess more than 1 dog" to "do not possess more than one animal."Vacated and remanded for re-entry of the original condition.

Other Cases.

State v. Henry Luther Brown, III, probable cause existed to arrest for murder on basis of anonymous tipster who revealed his identity before arrest where details of the statement were corroborated (the location of the motel, that a male victim was shot numerous times, that money was taken, and that two males and one female were involved) by forensic evidence and statements of unrelated witnesses.

State v. James Cole & Kawamie Cole, (1) no restraint to support kidnapping convictionwhere such restraint was an inherent part of the armed robbery for which defendant was also convicted; (2) kidnapping conviction stands (as to different victim) even though acquitted as to the robbery, as purpose for restraint was robbery even if it never actually occurred, and (3) verdicts of not guilty of possession of firearm by felon and guilty of assault with a deadly weapon not legally inconsistent.

State v. John Savage, defendant challenged probation violation on jurisdictional grounds. To have juridiction for probation violation, “the probationer must have committed a violation during his probation, the State must file a motion indicating its intent to conduct a revocation hearing, and the State must have made a reasonable effort to notify the probationer and conduct the
hearing sooner." Remanded for clearer findings.

State v. Misty Witherspoon, no error in allowing prosecution to use a mannequin and couch to re-create the crime scene in a murder trial. Court found this to be demonstrative evidence relative to premediation and deliberation.

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