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Attorney Brian Tevis' Win in the Georgia Supreme Court: State v. Johnson

Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a decision agreeing with Attorney Brian Tevis that his client’s murder conviction should be overturned and the client is entitled to a new trial. In State v. Johnson, the court held that our client’s conviction resulted from the trial court’s plain error.

Before the client engaged our firm, he was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to life in prison. At trial, the prosecutor’s entire cased hinged on the testimony of a single witness who was also indicted as an accomplice to the client’s alleged crimes. No other witness or demonstrable evidence was introduced to corroborate the witness’ testimony at trial. The jury convicted our client of murder, and the court sentenced him to life in prison.

After his conviction, the client engaged Attorney Brian Tevis to work on his appeal. Mr. Tevis prepared the client’s appeal, arguing that the trial court should have instructed the jury that accomplice testimony requires corroboration. Georgia statutory law provides that in “felony cases where the only witness is an accomplice, the testimony of a single witness shall not be sufficient.” OCGA § 24-14-8 (2018).

However, the court’s instructions at trial told the jury that “the testimony of a single witness, if believed, is generally sufficient to establish a fact. Generally, there is no legal requirement of corroboration of a witness provided that you find the evidence to be sufficient.”

The Georgia Supreme Court held that the trial court’s failure to provide the jury with the proper instruction on accomplice testimony was an error that justified overturning the client’s conviction to conduct a new trial. The court reasoned that “[b]y failing to give the required accomplice corroboration charge, the trial court impermissibly empowered the jury to find Johnson guilty based solely on Reaux’s accomplice testimony.” The court found that such an error “seriously affect[ed] the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of the judicial proceedings.”

Defending Your Right to a Fair Trial

A criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial is an indispensable component of our country’s criminal justice system. The U.S. Constitution, state laws and court rules are carefully crafted to help ensure that justice is dispensed using fair methods. Ensuring that your trial is untainted by court mistakes and misconduct from the prosecutions requires the skilled services of a serious Atlanta criminal defense attorney. At the Tevis Law Firm, LLC, we provide unrelenting advocacy for our clients to ensure their due process rights are not infringed. We are prepared to take a case up to the Georgia Supreme Court if necessary.

Call us at (404) 907-2527 or visit our website online to arrange a free, in-person consultation to evaluate the merits of your case and your available legal options.