Dos Santos v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
Tia Marie Dos Santos entered negotiated guilty pleas in 2018 to felony murder and other crimes. In the same term of court, she filed a pro se motion to withdraw her guilty pleas. The trial court denied the motion as meritless, and Dos Santos timely appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. Pursuant to White v. Georgia, 806 SE2d 489 (2017), the trial court should have dismissed Dos Santos’s pro se motion as a legal nullity, because she was still represented by her plea counsel when she filed the motion. The Supreme Court therefore vacated the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case with direction to dismiss the motion to withdraw guilty pleas as inoperative. The Court also recognized, as it did not in White and some other cases, that had the trial court properly dismissed the motion, the Supreme Court would properly dismiss a subsequent appeal from that judgment, rather than affirming the judgment. The Court emphasized how important it was for criminal defense lawyers not to abandon their clients immediately after a guilty plea, and discussed how to deal with some of the practical issues that may arise from the holdings in White that were reiterated in this case.