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GA Court of Appeals Dismisses Appeal in RICO Case

May 15, 2013

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has been charged in a 37-count indictment for various acts of theft, racketeering (RICO), perjury, influencing witnesses and violating his oath of office.

The trial court granted a general demurrer filed by Hill’s defense attorneys and dismissed five of the counts, including the theft and RICO charges. In response, the State filed a direct appeal.

The Georgia Court of Appeals dismissed the State’s appeal holding that it lacked jurisdiction over the case as the trial court’s ruling left the remaining 32 counts of the indictment intact.  Citing Georgia Supreme Court precedent, the Court noted that a trial court’s order dismissing fewer than all counts of an indictment is not a “final order” under Georgia law. Thus, a certificate of immediate review was required in order to appeal the ruling in Hill’s case.

The State argued that an amendment to the relevant statute, O.C.G.A. § 5-7-2, rendered the certificate unnecessary. However, the Court pointed out that the prior version of the statute, in place when Hill was charged, did require the certificate. The Court held that the amendment should not be applied retroactively so, despite the amendment, the State still needed to obtain a certificate of immediate review in order to appeal the ruling on the general demurrer.

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