The State entered into evidence a federal indictment “charging unrelated defendants with crimes and racketeering activities” into an instant case before DeKalb Superior Court. The group of defendants before the judge and jury already on trial faced multiple violations of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The State believed that the indictment was needed in order to prove other elements associated with “criminal gang activity” and under O.C.G.A. § 24-4-404 (b), felt that the indictment was admissible in order to show motive. The trial court denied the motion, prompting the State to appeal.
The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court, pointing out that an indictment is a “formal written accusation,” which the Court then labeled as hearsay and unusable as evidence. The Court also informed the State that it was obligated to prosecute its case based upon the rules regarding evidence rather than “alleged gang-related crimes.”