Otis v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
Appellant Geary Otis was charged in a seven-count indictment with malice murder and other offenses arising out of the 2013 death of one victim and the assault of another. A jury was impaneled and sworn and the State and defense presented their opening statements. At the conclusion of its opening statement, the defense revealed its intent to pursue an insanity defense, for which it had not given prior notice to the State. Outside the presence of the jury, the State objected to the raising of this defense due to the lack of prior notice. In response, the defense asserted that because Otis would not be calling an expert witness to support the defense, he was not required to give advance notice pursuant to Uniform Superior Court Rules, and relied upon the holding in "Abernathy v. Georgia," (462 SE2d 615 (1995)). At a hearing on the issue the following day, the trial court, sua sponte, and over appellant’s objection, declared a mistrial and rescheduled the case for trial in two weeks. Appellant filed a plea in bar on the ground of double jeopardy and, after conducting a hearing on the double jeopardy issue, the trial court denied appellant’s plea in bar. On appeal, Otis argued to the Supreme Court that the trial court erred in declaring a mistrial and in denying his plea in bar. The Supreme Court agreed with this reasoning and reversed, remanding the case for further proceedings.