Benton v. HinesAnnotate this Case
In 2009, Bridgette Hines was convicted of armed robbery and other crimes in connection with the robbery of a convenience store, and she was sentenced to imprisonment for 20 years. Her convictions were affirmed on appeal. Then, in 2017, Hines filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that she was denied the effective assistance of counsel on appeal. The habeas court agreed with Hines and set aside her convictions. The Warden appealed. The evidence presented at her trial shows that Hines, Geoffrey Jupiter, and Ricky Timmons were involved in the robbery. Hines and Jupiter were tried together, and Timmons testified against them. Timmons had agreed to testify for the prosecution as a part of a plea deal that allowed Timmons to plead guilty to simple robbery and avoid prosecution for the greater offense of armed robbery. Hines argued that her trial counsel failed to cross-examine Timmons about the fact that he faced a potential life sentence for armed robbery with no parole eligibility for 30 years, but for his deal in which the State agreed that he could plead guilty only to simple robbery and testify against Hines (and Jupiter). This failure to impeach Timmons, Hines argued, was the basis for a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel that her appellate counsel should have raised on direct appeal. Because her appellate counsel raised no such claim, she concluded she was denied the effective assistance of counsel on appeal. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded Hines has failed to show ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, "Even if Hines could have shown that her trial counsel acted deficiently in failing to impeach Timmons on this particular issue, she likely would not have been able to show prejudice." The Court reversed the habeas court's judgment granting relief.