Finney v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
In February 2008, prosecuting attorneys applied to a judge of the superior court for a Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 Title III order authorizing investigators to intercept oral and electronic communications transmitted to and from a wireless phone used by Benjamin Finney. At the time of the application, investigators believed that Finney was involved in the distribution of cocaine and other controlled substances in Jones County, and they also suspected that he had been involved in the recent killing of Gwendolyn Cole in Bibb County. The judge granted the application and entered an order authorizing investigators to intercept Finney’s communications for a period of 30 days. On March 7, another judge of the superior court entered an order extending the authorization through April 7. Investigators ceased their interception of communications on March 20, but recordings of the intercepted communications were not presented for sealing until April 23, sixteen days after the expiration of the Title III authorization. Almost five years later, a grand jury indicted Finney, charging him with murder and other crimes in connection with the killing of Cole. Finney filed a motion to suppress evidence that investigators obtained by way of the Title III authorization, contending that the State had failed to immediately present recordings of intercepted communications for sealing. In response to the motion, the State identified two circumstances as an explanation for the delayed presentation of the recordings. The Georgia Supreme Court permitted Finney to take an interlocutory appeal of the denial of his motion. Upon this record, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in accepting the circumstances identified by the State as a “satisfactory explanation” for the delay in presenting the recordings for sealing. The Court concluded the trial court should have granted the motion to suppress.