November 15, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Convictions reversed; judge’s affair with public defender required recusal

Posted by in Procedure

New case!State v. Wakefield, A13A1436, ___ Ga.App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR ____, 2013 WL 5951946 (November 8, 2013). Convictions of five unrelated defendants reversed based on judicial misconduct; evidence supported finding that judge who presided at trials was then involved in an undisclosed sexual relationship with the public defender who represented defendants. 1. Judge violated Canon 3(E)(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct “when he failed to disclose his [sexual] relationship with [public defender] Cornwell or to recuse himself from these trials.” Canon 3(E)(1) “provides in relevant part: ‘Judges shall disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where … (a) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding.’ (Emphasis supplied.) … To disqualify a judge, a bias ‘must be of such a nature and intensity to prevent the complaining party from obtaining a trial uninfluenced by the court’s prejudgment.’ [Jones County v. A Mining Group, 285 Ga. 465, 467 (678 S.E.2d 474) (2009)]; see also Hargrove v. State, 299 Ga.App. 27, 31–32(2) (681 S.E.2d 707) (2009) (a trial court’s failure to recuse sua sponte ‘“will warrant reversal only where the conduct or remark of the judge constitutes an egregious violation of a specific ethical standard, and it must support the inescapable conclusion that a reasonable person would consider the judge to harbor a bias that affects his ability to be impartial”’) (emphasis in original), quoting Lemming v. State, 292 Ga.App. 138, 141(1) (663 S.E.2d 375) (2008)).” “[T]he record before us supports a reasonable inference that Judge English’s ongoing and intimate relationship with Cornwell during each of the five trials at issue caused him to harbor a bias ‘of such a nature and intensity to prevent the complaining party from obtaining a trial uninfluenced by the court’s prejudgment’ and could lead to ‘a reasonable perception of lack of impartiality by the judge, held by a fairminded and impartial person based upon objective fact or reasonable inference.’ Jones County, 285 Ga. at 466–467; see also New York Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, Opinion 11–45 (April 28, 2011) (if a relationship between an attorney and a judge is ‘ongoing and appears to be sufficiently close as to give rise to a perception that the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned,’ or ‘is such that a reasonable person could reasonably conclude that the relationship might influence the judge—and thus call into question the judge’s impartiality,’ then ‘disqualification is required’). As other courts have held in similar circumstances, we therefore conclude that when Judge English failed to disclose his relationship with Cornwell or to recuse himself from the trials at issue here, he violated Canon 3(E)(1). See Inquiry Concerning Trammell, 48 Cal.4th CJP Supp. 56, 63–65 (1999) (judge who engaged in a sexual relationship with a criminal defendant while presiding over cases against two co-defendants was guilty of ‘willful misconduct,’ including ‘bad faith’ in his ‘corrupt purpose’ of furthering that relationship, and violated Canon 3(E) when he failed to disclose the relationship).” 2. “Judge English’s violation of Canon 3(E) is not harmless error. As our Supreme Court has recently emphasized, ‘[j]udicial integrity is a state interest of the highest order because the power and prerogative of a court to resolve disputes rests upon the respect accorded by citizens to a court’s judgments which, in turn, depends upon the issuing court’s absolute probity.’ (Citation and punctuation omitted.) [Mayor & Alderman of City of Savannah v. Batson-Cook Co., 291 Ga. 114, 728 S.E.2d 189 (May 29, 2012), see below]. ‘It is vital to the functioning of the courts that the public believe in the absolute integrity and impartiality of its judges, and judicial recusal serves as a linchpin for the underlying proposition that a court should be fair and impartial.’ (Citation omitted.) Id. Specifically, Canon 3 E(1), ‘an inclusive catch-all provision for analysis of alleged disqualifying judicial conduct,’ sets ‘a general standard that the appearance of partiality requires recusal [.]’ Id. at 121(2) (emphasis supplied).” 3. Makes no finding on the propriety of trial court’s finding that defendants were denied due process by the secret relationship between the judge and public defender.

at 12:32 PM

Can you steal a house without taking it anywhere? Yes, says CoA

Posted by in Offenses

New case!Harris v. State, A13A1427, ___ Ga.App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR 3397, 2013 WL 5813641 (October 30, 2013). Theft by taking, RICO and related convictions affirmed. 1. Asportation not an element of theft. Convicted of theft of real property – vacant homes that defendant and his co-defendants took over and leased out – defendant wrongly argues that the State was required to prove asportation as an element of theft. Defendant “argues that he actually ‘took’ nothing because the property involved was real property which remained in its original place at all times. But this argument is belied by the statutory definition of the offense, which may be committed ‘regardless of the manner in which the property is taken or appropriated. (Emphasis supplied.) OCGA § 16–18–2. Thus, we have held that ‘[t]he word “theft” is not, like “larceny,” a technical word of art with narrowly defined meaning, but a word of general and broad connotation, covering any criminal appropriation of another’s property to the taker’s use.‘ (Punctuation omitted; emphasis supplied.) Ruppert v. State, 284 Ga.App. 456, 458(1)(a) (643 S.E.2d 892) (2007). The statute does not define the term ‘appropriate,’ but we note the definition in Black’s Law Dictionary: ‘[t]o make a thing one’s own … to exercise dominion over an object to the extent, and for the purpose, of making it subserve one’s own proper use or pleasure.’ Black’s Law Dictionary (6th ed., 1990). See also Doe v. State, 290 Ga. 667, 668 (725 S.E.2d 234) (2012) (‘In construing [a] statute, we apply the fundamental rules of statutory construction that require us to construe the statute according to its terms, to give words their plain and ordinary meaning….’). In this case, the evidence authorized a finding that Harris, without permission from the rightful owner, made use of real property by charging rent to tenants. This unauthorized exercise of dominion over the real property was sufficient to support his conviction for theft by taking.” 2. Intent. “Harris also argues that, based on evidence that he was willing to return the property if the rightful owner ever inquired, he lacked intent to steal the properties. But ‘regardless of whether [Harris] intended to take the [properties] and withhold [them] permanently, his intent to take [them] for his own temporary use without the owner[s'] authorization evinces an intent to commit a theft. Once criminal intent at the time of taking is proved, it becomes irrelevant whether the deprivation is permanent or temporary.’ (Punctuation omitted.) Smith v. State, 172 Ga.App. 356, 357(2) (323 S.E.2d 257) (1984).”

at 12:30 PM

Loitering statute makes allowances for muggles, CoA says

New case!Isenhower v. State, A13A1165, ___ Ga.App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR 3392, 2013 WL 5779639 (October 28, 2013). Evidence didn’t support conviction for loitering on school property, where evidence showed that defendant left when told to do so. “[I]t is logical that upon being asked to leave by Edwards, Isenhower could not simply vanish into thin air, ‘disapparating’ like a character in one of J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ novels. (Isenhower was, after all, at Heard County High School, not Hogwarts.) Rather, before running afoul of the statute and violating its prohibition on any willful failure to remove herself, OCGA § 20–2–1180(b)(1), Isenhower first had to be given some reasonable amount of time to remove herself from the second floor of the building, reach her vehicle in the parking lot below, and drive off the school grounds. See generally Pressley v. State, 269 Ga.App. 143, 145(1)(c), 603 S.E.2d 699 (2004) (in the context of criminal trespass, OCGA § 16–7–21(b), to sustain a conviction, the person charged must be given a ‘reasonable amount of time’ to leave and must fail to do so); Hall v. State, A13A0356, ___ Ga.App. ___, (3) 744 S.E.2d 833, 13 FCDR 2014, 2013 WL 2996194 (June 18, 2013) (in the context of loitering, OCGA § 16–11–36, courts have considered the length of time a defendant was present on the premises as a factor in determining guilt) and Hubbard v. State, 311 Ga.App. 671, 673(1), 716 S.E.2d 777 (2011) (same). The undisputed testimony shows that Isenhower spent approximately two to four minutes walking from the second floor of the building to the parking lot. No testimony indicates that she intentionally delayed in driving off school premises, nor does any testimony show that she resisted leaving.”

at 12:27 PM

Trial jurors still not entitled to take notes

New case!Owens v. State, A13A1449, ___ Ga.App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR 3260, 2013 WL 5543182 (October 9, 2013). Armed robbery conviction affirmed; no ineffective assistance based on failure to ensure that jurors were provided with note pads and pencils. Trial court noted the omission as the State’s fifth witness was called, and offered note pads to the jurors, but they declined. “Owens argues that notepads would have been helpful to the jury in light of conflicts in the evidence already presented. … We know of no provision entitling a defendant to demand that jurors be furnished with the means for taking notes in every case, nor has Owens pointed us to any such law. To the contrary, absent special or unusual circumstances, the decision whether to allow the jury to take notes lies in the sound discretion of the trial court. See Potts v. State, 259 Ga. 96, 104(21), 376 S.E.2d 851 (1989) (trial court did not abuse discretion in allowing jurors to take notes); Miller v. State, 307 Ga.App. 598, 598–599, 705 S.E.2d 697 (2011) (within trial court’s discretion to allow jurors to take notes); Williamson v. State, 142 Ga.App. 177, 178(3), 235 S.E.2d 643 (1977) (trial court did not abuse discretion in instructing juror not to take notes because the case was not complicated); White v. State, 137 Ga.App. 9, 10(1), 223 S.E.2d 24 (1975) (in absence of special or unusual circumstances, note-taking left to judge’s discretion). We find no special or unusual circumstances in this case sufficient to remove the issue of note-taking from the trial court’s discretion. Therefore, Owens has failed to establish that his trial counsel was deficient in failing to move for a mistrial or to demand that writing materials be furnished to the jury.”

at 12:27 PM

Runaway (special grand) jury couldn’t explore subjects outside mandate

New case!State v. Lampl, A13A1071, ___ Ga.App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR 3395, 2013 WL 5779637 (October 28, 2013). Trial court properly granted motion to dismiss charge of perjury; special grand jury was improperly considering a matter beyond the scope of its charge when defendant testified. Special grand jury was summoned to investigate matters pertaining to county officials and employees; the project as to which defendant testified was a city, not county, project, and defendant himself was a city, not a county, employee. “A special purpose grand jury may be impaneled ‘for the purpose of investigating any alleged violation of the laws of this state or any other matter subject to investigation by grand juries as provided by law.’ OCGA § 15–12–100(a). … In this case, the Clayton County Superior Court entered an order impaneling the special purpose grand jury ‘for the purpose of investigating public corruption and various crimes allegedly committed by currently or previously elected county officials and county employees.’ It is undisputed that Lampl was an employee of the City of Morrow, and that he was neither a currently or previously elected county official or county employee. Furthermore, our review of the transcripts of the special purpose grand jury proceedings indicate that the investigation focused on Lampl and the contracting irregularities related to the Olde Towne Morrow project, a matter that did not involve county officials or county employees. Accordingly, we agree with the trial court that the special purpose grand jury did not have the authority to investigate Lampl or the Olde Towne Morrow project. Likewise, we agree with the trial court that the special purpose grand jury lacked the authority to subpoena Lampl for the purpose of investigating the Olde Towne Morrow project and his involvement in the same. While a special purpose grand jury may subpoena witnesses and compel evidence, its power to do so is limited to matters which relate directly or indirectly to the authorized investigation. See OCGA § 15–12–100(c). Here, the special purpose grand jury was not authorized to investigate Lampl or the Olde Towne Morrow project. As Lampl’s perjury charge arose out of his testimony during this unauthorized investigation, the trial court did not err in dismissing the perjury count. See State v. Bartel, 223 Ga.App. 696, 696–697, 479 S.E.2d 4 (1996) (‘The law of Georgia does authorize a perjury prosecution against witnesses who swear falsely in testimony before local grand juries conducting civil investigations, so long as the grand jury is lawfully conducting an investigation authorized by state law’) (emphasis supplied).”

at 12:26 PM

Willful ignorance as proof of knowledge that drugs were in the car

Posted by in Evidence

New case!Garcia-Maldonado v. State, A13A2262, ___ Ga.App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR ____, 2013 WL 5931975 (November 6, 2013). Conviction for methamphetamine trafficking affirmed; evidence was sufficient to prove defendant’s knowledge, or willful ignorance, of the drugs in the car he was driving. “The evidence showed that Garcia–Maldonado met Flores in the parking lot of a gas station shortly before the drug transaction, where he was given the keys to the green vehicle containing the approximately one-pound of methamphetamine and was instructed where to drive and park; that he arrived at the scene of the drug transaction first, parked the green vehicle, and appeared to wait for the second vehicle; that he was the driver and sole occupant of the green vehicle in which the drugs were stashed; and that, by his own admission, he had been offered a large sum of money to drive the green vehicle to the motel. This combined evidence, particularly in conjunction with the experienced officer’s testimony that large drug transactions often involve the use of two cars by drug dealers, was sufficient to authorize Garcia–Maldonado’s drug trafficking conviction. See, e.g., Aguilera v. State, 320 Ga.App. 707, 713(2) (740 S.E.2d 644) (2013) (affirming conviction for trafficking in cocaine where there was evidence from which jury could infer that defendant, who was the driver of the vehicle containing the cocaine, had knowingly ferried the drugs necessary for the drug transaction). See generally Floyd v. State, 207 Ga.App. 275, 282(2)(b) (427 S.E.2d 605) (1993) (‘It is a reasonable inference that, as the driver, [the defendant] was in control of the vehicle and had knowledge of its contents.’).” “Alternatively, ‘the knowledge element of a violation of a criminal statute can be proved by demonstrating either actual knowledge or deliberate ignorance of criminal activity.’ (Citations and punctuation omitted.) Able v. State, 312 Ga.App. 252, 258(3) (718 S.E.2d 96) (2011). Under the concept of ‘deliberate ignorance,’ the requisite knowledge can be shown where a defendant ‘has his suspicions aroused but then deliberately omits to make further enquiries [ ] because he wishes to remain in ignorance.’ (Citation and footnote omitted.) Perez–Castillo v. State, 257 Ga.App. 633, 634 (572 S.E.2d 657) (2002). See also Huckabee v. State, 287 Ga. 728, 734(6)(b), n. 7 (699 S.E.2d 531) (2010) (charge on deliberate ignorance appropriate ‘when the facts support the inference that the defendant was aware of a high probability of the existence of the fact in question and purposely contrived to avoid learning all of the facts in order to have a defense in the event of a subsequent prosecution’) (citations and punctuation omitted). Here, in light of the evidence previously discussed, the jury was authorized to find that Garcia–Maldonado acted with deliberate ignorance to the extent that he drove the green vehicle without question to the motel in return for a promise of $500.”

at 12:24 PM

Statute of limitation defense no longer waived by guilty plea

Posted by in Defenses

New case!Vaughn v. State, A13A1285, ___ Ga.App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR 3307, 2013 WL 5682338 (October 21, 2013). Whole court opinion. Following non-negotiated guilty plea to theft by deception, trial court erred in ordering victim restitution of amounts taken beyond the applicable limitations period. Overruling Beall v. State, 252 Ga.App. 138, 139(2) (555 S.E.2d 788) (2001) to the extent that it holds that “entry of a guilty plea waives statute of limitation defenses.” “At a restitution hearing, the State has the burden of demonstrating the amount of loss sustained by the victim by the preponderance of the evidence, OCGA § 17–14–7(b), and the amount of restitution ordered shall not exceed the victim’s damages. OCGA § 17–14–9. [fn] OCGA § 17–14–2(2) defines ‘damages’ for purpose of the restitution statute as ‘all special damages which a victim could recover against an offender in a civil action,based on the same act or acts for which the offender is sentenced [.]’ (emphasis supplied). See also Mayfield v. State, 307 Ga.App. 630, 631(2)(b) (705 S.E.2d 717) (2011). The statute of limitation for a civil suit for recovery of converted funds is four years after the right of action accrues. OCGA § 9–3–32.”

at 12:21 PM

Ordinance requires possesion of at least an ounce of marijuana?

Unfortunately, plaintiff didn’t have standing to raise the issue.

New case!Rehman v. Belisle, S13A1605, ___ Ga. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR 3327, 2013 WL 5878287 (November 4, 2013). Mandamus action against Mayor and Council of Senoia properly dismissed; plaintiff who was not charged with violation of ordinance or otherwise threatened with its enforcement lacked standing to challenge its constitutionality. Plaintiff sought “a declaration that a city ordinance is ‘ill conceived, confusing, detrimental and unconstitutional’ and should be repealed. The ordinance states: ‘It shall be unlawful for any person to have in his possession less than one ounce of marijuana.’” Based on use of the pronoun “his,” “Plaintiff posits the ordinance can be read so as to make it lawful for men, but not women, to be in possession of more than one ounce of marijuana.” This might explain that recurring zombie problem in Senoia.

October 23, 2013 at 11:32 PM

Georgia Supreme Court offers new guidance on roadblocks, pt. 2

New case!Brown v. State, S12G1287, ___ Ga. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR ____, 2013 WL 5708015 (October 21, 2013). Reversing 315 Ga.App. 154 (726 S.E.2d 654) (2012); trial court’s ruling granting motion to suppress based on validity of roadblock was supported by evidence that the decision to hold the roadblock was made by a sergeant acting as an officer in the field, and not in advance as a supervisor. 1. Purpose of roadblock is determined on the departmental level. Based on City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32, 48 (121 S.Ct. 447, 148 L.Ed.2d 333) (2000): “‘“[s]ubjective intentions play no role in ordinary, probable-cause Fourth Amendment analysis,”’ id. at 45 (citation omitted), and cautioned that ‘the purpose inquiry in this context is to be conducted only at the programmatic level and is not an invitation to probe the minds of individual officers acting at the scene,’ id. at 48.” “Thus, Edmond supplemented LaFontaine’s requirements for the implementation and operation of a constitutionally valid checkpoint by adding the requirement of an inquiry into the primary purpose of the checkpoint program.” Query: how to determine purpose where roadblock jointly operated by multiple agencies? See Kellogg (November 6, 2007), below. 2. Time and place of specific roadblock must be made in advance by a supervisor, but that supervisor need not be “a ‘progammatic-level’ executive.” “[T]he purpose of the first LaFontaine requirement is not to require approval of a particular roadblock at some high level of agency management, but simply to ensure that the implementation decision is made above and away from ‘field officers’ on roving patrol, whose unfettered exercise of discretion is feared.” 3. While supervisor who orders the roadblock may also participate in it, he must make the decision in advance as a supervisor, not as a field officer. Evidence supports trial court’s finding here that the decision to implement the checkpoint in this case was made by a sergeant while acting as an officer in the field, rather than in advance while acting in a supervisory role. Strongly suggests that law enforcement agencies “require and maintain documentation as to when, where, and by whom the decision to implement a checkpoint is made”; agencies failing to do so “may find it harder to prove those facts if disputed in court many months later.” “We are not suggesting that it is improper for supervisory personnel to be present at a police checkpoint. To the contrary, having an experienced supervisor present may help ensure that proper procedures (including constitutional requirements) are followed by the officers conducting the roadblock. Nor is a checkpoint rendered unconstitutional solely because the supervisor who authorized the checkpoint later participates to some extent in the checkpoint’s operation. See, e.g., Johnson v. State, 320 Ga.App. 231, 233 (739 S.E.2d 718) (2013); Owens v. State, 308 Ga.App. 374, 376–377 (707 S.E.2d 584) (2011). This should be done with caution, however, as it can raise questions about whether the decision to implement the checkpoint was really made by the supervisor in advance rather than as an officer out in the field—particularly where, as here, the supervisor did not document when the decision to implement the checkpoint was made.” We also note in this respect that the majority below was wrong in saying that “officers are not precluded as a matter of law from acting simultaneously as a supervisor and a field officer,” to the extent that the majority was speaking to the decision to implement a checkpoint. 4. Criticizes Baker v. State, 252 Ga.App. 695 (556 S.E.2d 892) (2001) for conflating requirements of Edmond with LaFontaine and thus focusing on the “primary purpose” of the supervisors who decided where and when to hold the particular roadblock.Baker’s merger of the Edmond requirement into the first LaFontaine requirement has created confusion in some cases, because the official who decided to implement the specific checkpoint at issue—the focus of the LaFontaine inquiry—may not be, and need not be, the official or officials whose primary purpose for establishing the agency’s checkpoint program must be determined under Edmond.” “When not conflated, the first LaFontaine requirement and Edmond’s appropriate primary purpose requirement can be more easily understood and applied. Two distinct questions are presented: (1) Was the police checkpoint at issue implemented pursuant to a checkpoint program that had, when viewed at that programmatic level, an appropriate primary purpose other than general crime control? (2) If so, was the decision to implement that specific checkpoint made by a supervisor in advance rather than by an officer in the field?” 5. “It should also be noted that compliance with the Edmond and LaFontaine requirements does not necessarily end the Fourth Amendment analysis of a checkpoint case. The ultimate question remains whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the challenged stop was reasonable. See Baker [v. State, 252 Ga.App. 695, 701 (556 S.E.2d 892) (2001)]. Thus, even if the checkpoint program and the particular checkpoint at which the driver was stopped satisfy the formal requirements, the reviewing court may consider evidence that the checkpoint basis for the stop was pretextual, see LaFontaine, 269 Ga. at 253, or that the checkpoint was used to harass, see [United States v. Martinez–Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 567, n.19 (96 S.Ct. 3074, 49 L.Ed.2d 1116) (1976)], or was otherwise arbitrary or oppressive. See [Illinois v. Lidster, 540 U.S. 419, 426 (124 S.Ct. 885, 157 L.Ed.2d 843) (2004)] (‘And, of course, the Fourth Amendment’s normal insistence that the stop be reasonable in context will still provide an important legal limitation on police use of this kind of information-seeking checkpoint.’).” 6. Court of Appeals was wrong to comment that understaffing of the checkpoint was “irrelevant” to LaFontaine analysis. “[I]ndeed it may be relevant in evaluating all of the LaFontaine requirements. If staffing is so limited, as it was here, that the officer who decides to implement the checkpoint must also play an integral role in its operation, that fact may raise questions about when and in what capacity the officer made the implementation decision.  [Cit.] Understaffing may also make it impossible to stop all vehicles while keeping the delay to law-abiding motorists minimal. The presence of only a few police officers and vehicles may make the operation less readily identifiable as a police checkpoint. And without a sufficient number of officers, those with the training and experience in detecting impaired drivers necessary to act as screeners may not be available at all times to screen drivers, due to the necessity of assisting other officers if a potentially dangerous situation develops, as it did in this case. Finally, adequate staffing ensures that the agency is devoting resources to the asserted primary purpose of the checkpoint, while also putting a natural limit on the number of checkpoints an agency will utilize. See Lidster, 540 U.S. at 426 (observing that in addition to Fourth Amendment constraints, ‘practical considerations—namely, limited police resources and community hostility to related traffic tieups—seem likely to inhibit’ any unreasonable proliferation of police checkpoints). Thus, the two-officer staffing of the checkpoint in this case was not in itself a constitutional violation, but it certainly did not enhance the State’s ability to show that the checkpoint was implemented and operated lawfully. In addition, the questionable application or violation of the staffing requirements set out in the police department’s checkpoint policy could be considered by the trial court in evaluating the credibility of Sergeant Marchetta’s testimony that he decided to implement the checkpoint two days in advance.”

at 11:31 PM

Georgia Supreme Court offers new guidance on roadblocks: part 1

New case!Williams v. State, S13G0178, ___ Ga. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 13 FCDR ____, 2013 WL 5708610 (October 21, 2013). Reversing 317 Ga.App. 658, 732 S.E.2d 531 (2012); in defendant’s DUI prosecution, trial court erred by denying motion to suppress based on legality of roadblock. 1. Evidence supported trial court’s finding that decision to set up roadblock was made by sergeant acting in advance as a supervisor, and not as a field officer. “Sergeant Jordan testified that on the evening of November 26, 2010, … he decided at the beginning of his shift or right as he was coming on shift to have his unit conduct a sobriety and license checkpoint in downtown Macon on Washington Avenue at Orange Street. According to both Sergeant Jordan and Deputy Scarborough, at least an hour before the checkpoint began, Jordan contacted Scarborough and the other deputy in the unit by cellphone and instructed them to meet him at that location. Sergeant Jordan said that he did not consult with the deputies before making the decision about where and when to conduct the checkpoint.” 2. “The Court of Appeals was … correct in saying that the assistance Sergeant Jordan provided to his two subordinate officers when traffic backed up at the roadblock, in order to minimize the delay to the public, did not ‘deprive Jordan of supervisory status’ for purposes of the first LaFontaine requirement.” See also Brown (October 21, 2013), below. 3. However, record didn’t support finding of permissible primary purpose at the programmatic level. Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Operations Manual authorized “general roadblocks which serve legitimate law enforcement purposes.” “[The Department’s] written checkpoint policy, viewed properly at the programmatic level—what checkpoints are authorized by the policy, rather than what the purpose was for any specific checkpoint—is not limited as the Constitution requires.” Other evidence – such as “testimony about restrictions being imposed through verbal orders or training or records showing that checkpoints have been done only for an appropriate purpose” – might establish allow for a different finding, but none was offered in this case. “[D]espite testimony describing the form that the BCSO has for reporting on checkpoints, no such forms were offered into evidence, and indeed the testimony indicated that the ‘normal routine’ was not to make any formal record of checkpoints like the multiple roadblocks that Sergeant Jordan had implemented each week for at least a year. And while testimony indicated that the BCSO checkpoint program included sobriety checks, which are an appropriate purpose for vehicle roadblocks, [citing Brown] there was no testimony or other evidence that the BCSO program excluded checkpoints for purposes of general crime control.” Query: how to determine purpose where roadblock jointly operated by multiple agencies? See Kellogg (November 6, 2007), below. 4. “To the extent that vehicle checkpoints become widespread, routine, and unregulated, that may suggest that the primary purpose of the agency’s checkpoint program is actually general crime control in violation of Edmond, or that checkpoints are arbitrary and oppressive in view of the totality of the circumstances.”

© 2013 Georgia Law Update: State & Federal Case Law Affecting Criminal Prosecutions in Trial Courts