Georgia v. JeffersonAnnotate this Case
In 2015, appellees Brenton Jefferson, his brother Santez Jefferson, Demarcus Cawthorne, Jamal Arnold, and Lee Davis were charged with, among other things, attempted murder, aggravated battery, kidnapping, and violations of the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. In connection with the State’s efforts to build a case against Appellees, the State gave notice of its intention to introduce into evidence at trial four certified copies of convictions relating to various gang members pursuant to OCGA 16-15-9. Santez filed a “Motion in Limine to Declare OCGA 16-15-9 Unconstitutional and to Bar the Introduction of Third Party Convictions,” arguing that the statute on its face violated the Confrontation Clause of the United States Constitution. The remaining Appellees adopted the motion at a 2016 hearing on the matter. Thereafter, the trial court entered an order finding that the admission of the third party convictions and the prior conviction of Cawthorne in the Appellees’ trial would violate their Sixth Amendment rights to confront the witnesses against them. The trial court granted appellees’ motion to declare the statute unconstitutional, and excluded the use of any of the third party convictions. The State appealed. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded the trial court correctly determined that OCGA 16-15-9 was unconstitutional on its face to the extent that it authorized the admission of the convictions of non-testifying non-parties as evidence of a criminal street gang.