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Just Me, Myself, And I: Georgia Trial Courts May Consider Pro Se Motions Filed By Represented Criminal Defendants, Mckayla A. Doss Jun 2024

Just Me, Myself, And I: Georgia Trial Courts May Consider Pro Se Motions Filed By Represented Criminal Defendants, Mckayla A. Doss

Mercer Law Review

For decades, Georgia’s trial courts have applied the absolute rule that pro se motions filed by represented (or presumably represented) criminal defendants were a legal nullity. In essence, hybrid representation was not permitted—legal representation precluded criminal defendants from acting as “co-counsel” or filing their own pro se motions.The application of this absolute rule substantially affected the time-sensitive period that follows a criminal conviction, as defendants in Georgia have a limited period of time to file a notice of appeal or a motion for new trial before the window of direct appeal closes. Failure to file these motions results in the …


Proprietors Beware: Recent Changes In Negligent Security Cases Involving Third-Party Criminal Acts And The State Of The Law Moving Forward After The Supreme Court Of Georgia’S Most Recent Decision In Georgia Cvs V. Carmichael, Blake Williamson Jun 2024

Proprietors Beware: Recent Changes In Negligent Security Cases Involving Third-Party Criminal Acts And The State Of The Law Moving Forward After The Supreme Court Of Georgia’S Most Recent Decision In Georgia Cvs V. Carmichael, Blake Williamson

Mercer Law Review

The burgeoning surge in criminal activity within the United States has precipitated a corresponding increase in legal actions aimed at ascertaining the liability of business proprietors for crimes that transpire on their premises. Although the legal and factual questions surrounding the attribution of liability for the criminal acts of third parties often prove intricate, the crux of the matter remains consistent with that encountered in other premises liability actions—namely, did the proprietor possess superior knowledge of the danger that injured the plaintiff?


Can Too Much Clarity Cause Confusion? A Case Study Of Mccalop V. State, Sutton M. Eggena Jun 2024

Can Too Much Clarity Cause Confusion? A Case Study Of Mccalop V. State, Sutton M. Eggena

Mercer Law Review

In criminal trials, few elements wield as much influence over the outcome as expert testimony. Expert testimony serves as the bridge between complex subject matter and the understanding of lay jurors, often occupying a pivotal position in the pursuit of justice. Indeed, expert testimony can be the lynchpin on which a jury’s verdict turns. Picture a courtroom filled with jurors, each presumed to lack a deep understanding of the intricate dynamics of domestic abuse and the profound effects of battered person syndrome on individuals trapped in violent relationships. In pursuit of justice, these jurors lean on a singular source—an expert …


Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church, Whitney Baker May 2024

Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church, Whitney Baker

Mercer Law Review

This Article provides a comprehensive review of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s most noteworthy criminal law opinions from 2023, with a focus on the key holdings from each decision. Section II of this Article addresses substantive criminal offenses, such as drug offenses, economic crimes, and firearm offenses, while Section III covers criminal procedure, the rules of evidence, and constitutional issues arising in criminal prosecutions. Section IV deals with the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other sentencing issues and provides a limited review of the Eleventh Circuit’s decisions in post-conviction proceedings, including those involving the First Step …


Victor Hugo Was Right All Along: Les Misérables, The Tragedy Of A Punitive Parole System, And A Modern Path Forward, Sarah Gerwig Apr 2024

Victor Hugo Was Right All Along: Les Misérables, The Tragedy Of A Punitive Parole System, And A Modern Path Forward, Sarah Gerwig

Mercer Law Review

Les Misérables, Victor Hugo’s tragic novel, was published over 160 years ago and yet it continues to capture imaginations and sympathies worldwide. It was made into an award-winning film over a decade ago. But before that, Les Misérables was one of the most popular Broadway musicals ever produced, having been viewed by over sixty million people, even beyond the viewership of other popular renditions in film and television. Despite (or perhaps because of) its heartbreaking themes, audiences sympathize with the main characters’ quest for redemption. How easy, in the story, to see the struggles and barriers Jean Valjean encounters—and …


Solving A Sixth Amendment Crisis: The Case For Resource Parity In Georgia’S Indigent Defense System, Meagan R. Hurley Apr 2024

Solving A Sixth Amendment Crisis: The Case For Resource Parity In Georgia’S Indigent Defense System, Meagan R. Hurley

Mercer Law Review

The United States criminal legal system employs what is said to be an “adversary” system—one in which opposing parties—the prosecution and the defense—present their evidence and arguments (usually in conflict with one another) to a neutral third party (a judge or jury) for adjudication. The idea behind the adversarial process is that a judge or jury is best positioned to make determinations of guilt or innocence once provided with reliable information from competent, zealous, and prepared advocates on both sides of the podium. At its core, the adversarial system is meant to function as the mechanism by which constitutional principles …


Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me. Or Will They? The Eleventh Circuit Expands The “Extreme Cruelty” Definition In 8 U.S.C. §1229b(B)(2) To Encompass Mental And Physical Abuse In Ruiz V. United States Attorney General, Sydnie N. Winter Apr 2024

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me. Or Will They? The Eleventh Circuit Expands The “Extreme Cruelty” Definition In 8 U.S.C. §1229b(B)(2) To Encompass Mental And Physical Abuse In Ruiz V. United States Attorney General, Sydnie N. Winter

Mercer Law Review

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), originally passed in 1994, was the first federal legislation acknowledging domestic violence as a crime. As part of this Act, Congress enacted 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(2), a rule that allows battered spouses (or children) who are not citizens or nationals of the United States of America to seek the discretionary cancellation of the government’s removal of them from the country. The VAWA special-rule was enacted as a way to enable abuse victims to obtain discretionary deportation relief, allowing them to leave their abusers without fear of deportation or other immigration-related consequences. ...

The United …


Capital Punishment, Carlos Wood Dec 2023

Capital Punishment, Carlos Wood

Mercer Law Review

In Glossip v. Gross, a 2015 Supreme Court of the United States case that addressed the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol, Justice Breyer authored a dissent, joined by Justice Ginsburg, in which he noted the declining use of the death penalty in the United States. Justice Breyer began his dissent by noting the downward trajectory of the number of convictions that resulted in capital sentences. The evidence he cited included the following: from 1986 to 1999, approximately 300 people on average were sentenced to death every year, but in 2000, this number began to decline rapidly. In 2014, …


Criminal Law, J. Scott Key Dec 2023

Criminal Law, J. Scott Key

Mercer Law Review

This Article reviews some of the most important opinions impacting the practice of criminal law delivered by the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Georgia covering the period from June 1, 2022, up and until May 31, 2023, as well as legislation adopted by the Georgia General Assembly during the 2023 session. This Article is designed to be a general overview for both prosecutors and defense attorneys of decisions and new statutes and serves as a broad guideline to how these decisions will affect the practice of criminal law.


Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church, Whitney Baker Jun 2023

Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church, Whitney Baker

Mercer Law Review

This Article provides a brief examination of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s most important opinions in 2022 in the area of federal criminal law. Rather than engage in an exhaustive review of the facts and laws in each case, we focus on the key holdings from only the most noteworthy, published decisions. Section II of this Article addresses substantive criminal offenses, such as economic crimes, drug offenses, and firearm offenses, while Section III covers criminal procedure, the rules of evidence, and constitutional issues arising in criminal prosecutions. Section IV deals with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines …


32 Shots In The Dark: How Local Governments Can Increase Police Accountability When States Refuse To, Marcia M. Ziegler May 2023

32 Shots In The Dark: How Local Governments Can Increase Police Accountability When States Refuse To, Marcia M. Ziegler

Mercer Law Review

On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor was shot to death in her apartment hallway by police officers executing a search warrant. The warrant was based on a false affidavit, the executing officers acted criminally on scene, and in the aftermath, detectives spread misinformation about the case on social media. While there was some limited accountability for the officers involved, many citizens considered the official response to be lackluster. After a period of public protest, Louisville and other cities all over the country have examined options for police reform at the local level. While most law enforcement agencies operate in a …


Criminal Law, J. Scottt Key Dec 2022

Criminal Law, J. Scottt Key

Mercer Law Review

This Article reviews some of the most important opinions impacting the practice of criminal law delivered by the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Georgia covering the period from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022, as well as legislation adopted by the Georgia General Assembly during the 2021 session. This Article is designed to be a mere overview to both prosecutors and defense attorneys of decisions and new statutes and serves as a broad guideline to how these decisions will affect the practices.


Ding Dong! The Count Is Dead, Or Is It?: Criminal Defendants May Not Directly Appeal Convictions If Unresolved Counts Are On The Dead Docket, Lilly B. Nickels May 2022

Ding Dong! The Count Is Dead, Or Is It?: Criminal Defendants May Not Directly Appeal Convictions If Unresolved Counts Are On The Dead Docket, Lilly B. Nickels

Mercer Law Review

A defendant is indicted on two criminal counts, is found guilty on one of those counts, and is sentenced to time in prison. However, the jury could not come to a decision on the other count, so the trial court judge places the count on the court’s dead docket where the count could remain for an indefinite period of time, deeming the defendant’s case pending in the trial court. Due to the defendant’s case being classified as pending, the defendant does not have the right to a direct appeal. The defendant must helplessly serve prison time without any idea as …


The Death Penalty Standard That Won’T Die: The Georgia Supreme Court Maintains The Highest Possible Standard Of Proof For The Mentally Disabled, Alyssa Ledoux May 2022

The Death Penalty Standard That Won’T Die: The Georgia Supreme Court Maintains The Highest Possible Standard Of Proof For The Mentally Disabled, Alyssa Ledoux

Mercer Law Review

Several serious issues arise when applying the death penalty to the mentally disabled. First, the social purposes served by the death penalty, retribution and deterrence, are questionable when it comes to the mentally disabled. Retribution by execution is reserved for those at the highest level of culpability or the highest level of conscious and depraved guilt. Likewise, execution is viewed as an effective deterrent on cold calculus that is not found in individuals with a mental disability.

Second, challenges the disabled face, such as the tendency to falsely confess, the lesser ability to present a persuasive showing of mitigating factors, …


Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church, Kate Forrest May 2022

Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church, Kate Forrest

Mercer Law Review

This Article provides a comprehensive review of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s most noteworthy criminal law opinions from 2021. Section II of this Article addresses substantive criminal offenses, such as economic crimes, drug offenses, and firearm offenses, while Section III covers criminal procedure and constitutional issues arising in criminal prosecutions. Section IV deals with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (the Guidelines) and other sentencing issues, and Section V provides a limited review of the court’s decisions in post-conviction proceedings.


Playing Hot Pot-Ato: Does Biden’S Presidency Signal The End Of Federal Marijuana Prohibition?, Sara Snowden May 2022

Playing Hot Pot-Ato: Does Biden’S Presidency Signal The End Of Federal Marijuana Prohibition?, Sara Snowden

Mercer Law Review

“Hot Potato is a very different game when the people playing are starving.” In the context of federal marijuana legalization, various branches and agencies within the government have long engaged in a game of political hot potato—tossing responsibility for legalization off into the hands of someone (anyone) else. These evasive maneuvers are not victimless. As an overwhelming majority of states have taken actions to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, unsuspecting citizens have been caught in the crosshairs between conflicting state and federal laws.

Take for example David Doe, a resident of Colorado, who suffered many afflictions. Three years ago, he was …


Fostering Equity And Accountability In Georgia’S Criminal Legal System Through Conviction Integrity Reforms, E. Addison Gantt, Meagan R. Hurley Apr 2022

Fostering Equity And Accountability In Georgia’S Criminal Legal System Through Conviction Integrity Reforms, E. Addison Gantt, Meagan R. Hurley

Mercer Law Review

An often-quoted excerpt from Berger v. United States sums up the role of a prosecutor in the criminal legal system. The context is the federal system, but it applies across the board. It begins by explaining the duty of a prosecutor: to represent the sovereign, “whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.”2 Then, it turns to the real-world application of that role, instructing that prosecutors should present their cases with …


Criminal Law, J. Scott Key Dec 2021

Criminal Law, J. Scott Key

Mercer Law Review

This Article reviews some of the most important opinions impacting the practice of criminal law delivered by the Supreme Court of the United States and the Georgia Supreme Court covering the period from June 1, 2020, up until May 31, 2021, as well as legislation adopted by the Georgia General Assembly during the 2020 session. This Article is designed to be a mere overview to both prosecutors and defense attorneys of decisions and new statutes and serves as a broad guideline on how these decisions will affect the practices.


Trouble With Treble Damages For Third Parties: The Georgia Streetgang Terrorism And Prevention Act, S. Meghan Pittman Dec 2021

Trouble With Treble Damages For Third Parties: The Georgia Streetgang Terrorism And Prevention Act, S. Meghan Pittman

Mercer Law Review

As the Georgia Supreme Court has issued its final opinion on the Georgia Streetgang Terrorism and Prevention Act, several issues are now raised. While the interpretation of the statute appears to be correct, the question still arises of whether or not this interpretation is consistent with the legislative intent of this Act as a whole.

Clearly, the issue which the Act was enacted to prevent was harm to innocent third-parties by criminal streetgangs. While a commercial property owners may not be able to fully police the area in which their property is located, shouldn’t these individuals be held to a …


Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church Jul 2021

Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church

Mercer Law Review

This Article provides a comprehensive review of the Eleventh Circuit’s most noteworthy criminal law opinions from 2020, with a focus on the key holdings from each decision. Section II of this Article addresses substantive criminal offenses, such as economic crimes, drug offenses, and firearm offenses, while Section III covers criminal procedure, the rules of evidence, and constitutional issues arising in criminal prosecutions. Section IV deals with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and other sentencing issues, and Section V provides a limited review of the Eleventh Circuit’s decisions in post-conviction proceedings.


Prisoner Exposure To A Pandemic: Measuring When Institutional Response Rises To Punishment, Josh Slovin Jul 2021

Prisoner Exposure To A Pandemic: Measuring When Institutional Response Rises To Punishment, Josh Slovin

Mercer Law Review

The Constitution prohibits the cruel and unusual punishment of inmates and detainees. Accordingly, when prison conditions fall below a humane level due to acts or omissions by prison officials, the prison may be found in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause, against an inmate or the Fourteenth Amendment, the Due Process Clause, against a pre-trial detainee (hereinafter detainee).

Specifically, the assertion of such claims regarding poor prison conditions raises the question of how prisons, and thus the courts, are approaching the novel health risks and administrative challenges posed by a global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in …


Making The Murderer’S Voyeurs: The Influence Of Violent Crime Exposure, Social Movements, And Desensitization On Georgia’S Treatment Of The Death Penalty, Sarah J. Foster May 2021

Making The Murderer’S Voyeurs: The Influence Of Violent Crime Exposure, Social Movements, And Desensitization On Georgia’S Treatment Of The Death Penalty, Sarah J. Foster

Mercer Law Review

The clock slowly ticks to 8:00 p.m. Popcorn in hand, he plops down in front of the television and quickly flips on “Criminal Minds”. He shoves in a kernel of popcorn as the show sets our scene. The clock slowly ticks to 11:45 p.m. A firm hand escorts a woman dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit into a small, sterile room. Only a large pane of glass separates her from the somber faces of witnesses, friends, and family. They whisper among each other and take their seats in the theater-like arrangement. Coarse straps are tightly pulled around her arms—he pops …


Irreparably Corrupt And Permanently Incorrigible: Georgia’S Procedures For Sentencing Children To Die In Prison, Rachel Ness-Maddox Dec 2020

Irreparably Corrupt And Permanently Incorrigible: Georgia’S Procedures For Sentencing Children To Die In Prison, Rachel Ness-Maddox

Mercer Law Review

Right now, two teenagers live in Georgia prisons, knowing they will be incarcerated for the rest of their lives.Countless adults are serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) for crimes they, too, committed when they were teenagers. It is difficult to find in officially‑reported data adults serving sentences they received for crimes they committed while children. This is because, once the two teenagers specifically noted in the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Inmate Statistical Profileturn twenty, they will move to the next data bracket for imprisoned people between the ages of twenty and twenty‑nine, just as all the …


Criminal Law, John A. Regan Dec 2020

Criminal Law, John A. Regan

Mercer Law Review

This Article reviews opinions impacting the practice of criminal law delivered by the Supreme Court of the United States and the Georgia Supreme Court covering the period of June 1, 2019, up until May 21, 2020.This Article is designed to be a mere overview to both prosecutors and defense attorneys of decisions and new statutes, and it serves as a broad guideline to how these decisions will affect their practices.


Shoot At Me Once: Shame On You! Shoot At Me Twice: Qualified Immunity. Qualified Immunity Applies Where Police Target Innocent Bystanders, Jameson M. Fisher Jun 2020

Shoot At Me Once: Shame On You! Shoot At Me Twice: Qualified Immunity. Qualified Immunity Applies Where Police Target Innocent Bystanders, Jameson M. Fisher

Mercer Law Review

Qualified immunity is a judicially created doctrine that has resulted in expansive protections for lower-level state officials for constitutional violations. Guidance from the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the interpretation of "clearly established rights" has been scarce and vague at best. As a result, district courts faced with qualified immunity assertions regarding a § 1983 claim take a restrictive approach to the doctrine's analysis often by relying on factually similar cases from binding authorities. Historically, innocent bystanders have had no clearly established right to be free from excessive force where force was applied to subdue the target of …


It's All In The Dna—How United States V. Hano Extends The Statute Of Limitations For The Eleventh Circuit, Caroline Walker Jun 2020

It's All In The Dna—How United States V. Hano Extends The Statute Of Limitations For The Eleventh Circuit, Caroline Walker

Mercer Law Review

It is likely that most professionals in all industries would agree that technology is rapidly evolving, most considering that assertion as a major understatement and some struggling to balance the variety of changes. In the legal realm, the DNA revolution has impacted both criminal prosecution and defense, specifically wrongful convictions, exonerations, proof of guilt at trial, and the reopening of cold cases. For example, since the first DNA exoneration in 1989, there have been 367 DNA exonerees in thirty-seven states to date. Forty-four percent of the exonerations involved misapplication of forensic science. Other law enforcement tools, such as rape kits …


Cameras Down, Hands Up: How The Supreme Court Chilled The Development Of The First Amendment Right To Record The Police, Christina Murray Jun 2020

Cameras Down, Hands Up: How The Supreme Court Chilled The Development Of The First Amendment Right To Record The Police, Christina Murray

Mercer Law Review

You may not realize this, but the Supreme Court of the United States has possibly jeopardized one of your First Amendment rights: the right to record the police. While this right may mean little to you now, it could serve as a means of protecting your other rights and in keeping law enforcement accountable. Because of the right to record the police, we have documented footage of police brutality from Missouri to Louisiana. These recordings have sparked outrage and fueled a conversation around policing, race, and our country's values.

This Comment will track the development of the right to record …


An Uneven Playing Field: The Government Extended Rights Denied To Defendants On Appeal, Breyana Fleming Jun 2020

An Uneven Playing Field: The Government Extended Rights Denied To Defendants On Appeal, Breyana Fleming

Mercer Law Review

Many people find themselves in the crosshairs of the criminal justice system as defendants. In preparing to defend themselves against the charges being brought by the government, these defendants cannot predict whether the outcome of a criminal proceeding will result in a finding of innocence or guilt. Defendants can, however, generally depend on uniformity in the law as it pertains to appellate procedure. Still, there are times where this uniformity will be sacrificed, and further, when it will be done in an unjust manner. For instance, when an appellate court allows the federal government to maintain an argument against a …


Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church Jun 2020

Criminal Law, Thomas D. Church

Mercer Law Review

Last year was another busy year for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. While the court continued developing federal criminal law within the circuit, the court was also forced to adjust its own precedents in light of several landmark opinions by the Supreme Court of the United States.

In United States v. Davis, for example, the Supreme Court struck down the residual clause in 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), thus overruling the Eleventh Circuit's en banc decision in Ovalles v. United States. Another one of the Supreme Court's most noteworthy opinions came on appeal directly from …


The Probationer, The Free Man, And The Fourth Amendment: Constitutional Protections For Those Who Have Served Their Sentences And Those Who Have Not, Rachel Ness-Maddox Jun 2020

The Probationer, The Free Man, And The Fourth Amendment: Constitutional Protections For Those Who Have Served Their Sentences And Those Who Have Not, Rachel Ness-Maddox

Mercer Law Review

In Park v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court evaluated whether persons convicted of sexual offenses and subsequently classified as "sexually dangerous predator[s]" may be required to wear Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devices after serving their full sentences, including fulfilling probation or parole requirements. The court held that, under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, such a requirement is invalid because it infringes on the right free people have against unreasonable searches and seizures executed by the state—no matter the crimes for which they were convicted or their status as registered sex offenders. However, the court made …