Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Competency | Paulding County Attorney

Competency trial issues

·        because it had concerns about Rice's mental state the trial court ordered a jury trial on the question of Rice's competence to stand trial. In later Rice entered a special plea of incompetence see OCGA 17-7-130 B. We find no merit to Rice's claims that his competency trial was defective. Prior to the competency trial defense counsel filed a pleading in which counsel objected to the trial court's conducting a competency trial in which counsel argued that Rice had showed no signs of incompetence. Rice argues on appeal that the trial court erred by overruling his motion in limine concerning the State's intent to use the pleading as evidence at the competency trial. The trial court was correct in ruling that the pleading was admissible as a statement in judicio. See OCGA 24-3-30 without offering the same evidence neither party may avail himself of allegations or admissions made in the pleadings of the other. Because we conclude that the pleading was admissible and need not address the extent to which Rice might have waived his objection to the state's use of the pleading when after the state had questioned the defense expert about the contents of the pleading and testimony favorable to Rice was given by the expert in response Rice stated that he had no objection to introduction of the written pleading itself. Rice was evaluated by court-appointed expert, who found him competent at the time of the evaluation. After this court-appointed expert left his employment with the Department of human resources and entered private practice, the trial court denied Rice's request for funds to hire him as a defense expert for further evaluation of Rice because the trial court's concern about a conflict of interest. However the trial court authorized funds for new expert to serve as a defense expert this new expert found Rice to be incompetent, because she found that Rice's paranoia interfered with his ability to assist his attorney. Rice argues that the trial court erred by allowing the State to argue that his parents had chosen to hire his new expert because the defense wanted a psychiatric evaluation different from the last one. However Rice has failed to cite to anywhere in the record where he objected to the State or the State's argument concerning the statement which appears to have been elicited first from the defense expert under direct examination in which appears to have been fully explained to additional question about how the defense expert had been hired. Rice argues that the trial court erred by refusing to excuse certain jurors. Because a defendant is entitled to a full panel of qualified jurors in preemptory strikes, the erroneous qualifying of a single juror from the panel from which the jury was struck would require reversal. Last v. State 275 Ga. 11 (2002). A juror who favors the death penalty must excuse the cost of those views would prevent or substantially impair the performance of jurors due to as a juror in accordance with the instructions given the juror and taken as true. Rice argued that the trial court erred by refusing to excuse certain jurors. We also give deference to a trial court's determination of whether a juror is biased on grounds unrelated to their views on sentencing. Lester v. State 289 Ga. 70 2011. Juror Spicer and stated that her concerns about forfeited hourly wages would be on her mind if she were selected to serve as a juror which also stated that she nevertheless would be able to focus and give full consideration case. The trial court noted that juror Spicer were not suffer extreme hardship, because her food and accommodations would be provided by the court during the trial and because she would receive some financial compensation as a juror. Rice argues that jurisdiction should have been deemed automatically disqualified because her sister had been the victim of a crime the perpetrator had been released on parole after serving 12 years of Winter Dixon believed was a sentence of life without possibility of parole, his sister feared for her future safety, and juror Dixon was frustrated with the outcome of the case. We disagree that such an automatic disqualification should apply, and we find no abuse of the trial court's discretion in finding juror Dixon qualified to serve in light of his more dire as a whole, particularly his clear responses indicating that he is no predisposition about Rice's case and that he would consider all 3 possible sentences. Juror Beck stated that based on what she learned about the allegations against Rice when the trial judge read the indictment, she would lean against a sentence of life without possibility of parole is Rice were found guilty. However, she clearly stated that she would consider that sentencing option in light of any mitigating evidence and would be able to vote for. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to excuse her. Rice argues that juror or Clark should have been disqualified based on his views about Mercy. Our review of Mr. Ert for more dire reveals that he repeatedly and emphatically stated that he would consider all mitigating evidence with an open mind and that he would be able to impose a life sentence. Defense counsel asked, could you consider Mercy as mitigation? Mr. Urquhart answered depending on the mitigating circumstances. Defense counsel then stated that mitigation could include things like bad childhood could also be nothing short of just yourself having Mercy. Defense counsel then asked would you consider Mercy in the case if you are in that position I put you in? Mr. Urquhart answered I don’t believe so in good conscience.

A juror must consider Mercy in light of mitigating factors that might exist in the case including simply the weaknesses of the State's own evidence. However we are aware of no authority in Rice cites none, for the proposition that a juror must consider Mercy despite the absence of any mitigating factors upon which to base such Mercy. OCGA 17-10-2 c provided that juror shall retire to determine whether any mitigating or aggravating circumstances as defined in code section 17-10-30 exists whether to recommend mercy. See also Commonwealth v. Powell of course the jury may consider Mercy air specifically when weighing specific aggravating and mitigating factors, but it may not exercise its sense of Mercy or sympathy in a vacuum. "There is no abuse of discretion in the trial court's refusal to excuse juror Urquart. Even under arguably improper questioning by Rice seeking prejudgment on sentencing under a given set of limited hypothetical circumstances that often omitted any reference to possible mitigating factors, jurors Kirk Peacock in Sheehan insists that they would consider all 3 sentences in light of all the evidence. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to excuse them.


Rice argues that the trial court erred in the guilt innocence phase by admitting the pretrial deposition of Trevor Mincher who was the husband of Connie Mincher and the father even Mincher and who died after the State's direct examination but before the date to which the defense implicitly consented for delayed cross-examination. To the extent that Rice's arguments address the issues of his waiver of his right to confrontation of witnesses, the statutory authority of the trial court under OCGA 1710 132 order that the deposition would begin immediately, and the constitutional sufficiency of the notice of deposition Trevor Mincher might occur, those arguments are barred under the law to case fire decisions on interim review. See Rice v. State 281 Ga. 149 (2006). Addressing the law of the case rule in a criminal case. Rice's new arguments based on the alleged violation by the State of other specific requirements contained within OCGA 24-10-130 based on an alleged violation of Georgia Constitution, and based on the right to cross examination under OCGA 24-9-64 were not preserved by objection below and they are therefore waived as matters of alleged trial court error.  Contact a Paulding County Attorney today !


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