Gwinnett Superior Court convicted a defendant of malice murder, burglary, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The defendant filed a motion for a new trial because he felt that his attorney was ineffectual, but the trial court denied his motion.
Georgia’s Supreme Court reviewed the defendant’s claims, but he was unable support them with any evidence. The prosecution notified the defense that it intended to impeach the testimony of one of its own witnesses, the defendant’s girlfriend, with a witness it had subpoenaed; however, the prosecution never called the witness to the stand. The defendant felt that his counsel should have filed for mistrial or filed a motion to strike the questions and answers about the subpoenaed witness to the girlfriend. The defendant was unable to show to the Court that striking the exchange would change his outcome, nor would the trial court grant a mistrial when it had other means at its disposal that would have ensured the defendant’s right to a fair trial.
During the trial, the court found a witness for the prosecution in criminal contempt, and the defense’s counsel asked that the witness be impeached. The trial court denied the request, claiming that the impeachment would impact the jury’s determination of whether the witness was truthful or not. The defendant believed that his attorney failed to object to this ruling, but the Supreme Court determined that the court was correct in its ruling, so an objection would have been futile.
The defendant also felt that his counsel had a conflict of interest because the lawyer represented the defendant’s girlfriend at the time of trial, and that this conflict prevented the attorney from impeaching her as a witness for the prosecution. The Court determined that the lawyer’s decision was one of strategy and not one of bias.
The Supreme Court felt that the trial counsel was sufficient in his performance and supported the trial court’s convictions.