Mobley v. State, S92A1013

Decision Date18 February 1993
Docket NumberNo. S92A1013,S92A1013
Citation426 S.E.2d 150,262 Ga. 808
PartiesMOBLEY v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

Daniel A. Summer, Summer & Summer, Gainesville, for Mobley.

C. Andrew Fuller, Dist. Atty., Leonard C. Parks, Jr., Asst. Dist. Atty., Northeastern Judicial Circuit Gainesville, for State.


This is an interim appellate review of a case in which the state seeks a death sentence. See OCGA §§ 17-10-35.1 and 17-10-35.2. An earlier trial ended in a mistrial. Mobley contends, inter alia, that a retrial would violate his double jeopardy rights.

1. On February 17, 1991, the manager of a pizza store in Hall County was shot to death and the store robbed. On March 13, 1991, Investigator Head of the Hall County Sheriff's Department and a GBI agent interviewed Mobley about the crime. During that interview, Mobley made a voluntary, oral confession. Later in the same interview, Mobley dictated a written confession. Mobley again gave oral statements on March 14 and March 15. Head wrote his own summaries of each of Mobley's oral statements. Mobley was allowed to review the dictated version and make corrections, but did not review the investigator's summaries of the oral statements. Both Head's summaries and Mobley's written statement were provided to defense counsel before trial.

During Mobley's trial, Investigator Head, while purportedly recounting verbatim the oral confession which Mobley made before his written confession, testified that Mobley stated, "Well, [the victim] could identify me, he saw me, he could identify me, and I knew at that point I had to kill him." That quote was not part of the written statement that had been provided to defense counsel. At the conclusion of the state's direct examination, defense counsel advised the court that they could not locate the quote in the material provided to them. Since it was time to recess for the evening anyway, the court postponed the defendant's cross-examination until the next day. After the court adjourned, the district attorney conferred with Head and informed defense counsel that the reported quote had not been made by the defendant. Rather, it was Head's "interpretation" of what Mobley had said.

The next day, Head testified outside the presence of the jury that the quote attributed to Mobley had been Head's interpretation of the following portion of Mobley's written confession:

I kept peeking around the front, looking out for cars. I saw a headlight shining in the store. I knew I had to get out quick. The car appeared to be just turning in the parking lot. The guy I was robbing turned around and looked at me. I said 'don't look at me, face the wall.' I pointed the gun up in his direction and turned my head away and fired.

Head told the trial judge that attributing his own interpretation as a direct quote from the defendant was an unintentional mistake on his part.

The trial court granted Mobley's motion for a mistrial, finding that there has been very little genuine dispute about guilt or innocence in this case, at least as far as the alleged offense of felony murder is concerned. What has been very much at issue is whether the defendant would be convicted of malice murder, and if convicted of malice murder whether the death penalty would be imposed by the jury.

The trial court found that the quote made by Head and attributed to Mobley had no basis in Mobley's written statement, and that because it would bear directly on the jury's decisions regarding malice aforethought and whether to impose the death penalty, the misquote went "to the very heart and soul of this case ... [and had] put an influence before this jury that can't be removed."

Mobley filed a plea of double jeopardy based upon a charge of prosecutorial misconduct, claiming that the district attorney knowingly allowed the use of false testimony to go uncorrected, goading Mobley into moving for a mistrial. The trial court denied the plea, finding that Investigator Head "did not act intentionally in his testimony" and that there was no intention by the prosecutor to goad Mobley into seeking a mistrial. The trial court ruled that Mobley could be retried. We agree.

The general rule is that where a mistrial is granted at the behest of the defendant, a retrial is not barred by principles of double jeopardy unless "the governmental conduct in question is intended to 'goad' the defendant into moving for a mistrial." Fugitt v. State, 253 Ga. 311, 315-16, 319 S.E.2d 829 (1984) (quoting from Oregon v. Kennedy, 456 U.S. 667, 675-76, 102 S.Ct. 2083, 72 L.Ed.2d 416 (1982)). The trial court found, and the defendant apparently concedes, that Head made an inadvertent mistake and did not intentionally or maliciously testify falsely. Mobley argues, however, that because the state waited until after Mobley's attorney questioned Head's testimony to correct it, the state's conduct must be penalized by barring a retrial. We disagree. It is true that the prosecutor has a duty to correct false evidence, and the sooner the better. But the prosecutor did reveal Head's error the evening of the day it occurred (albeit after the defense raised the issue). Even where false testimony was not discovered until after a conviction, "retrial has not been held to be barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause. [cits.]" Williams v. State, 258 Ga. 305, 312, 369 S.E.2d 232 (1988). The state's conduct was properly penalized by the grant of a mistrial. There is no double jeopardy bar to a retrial.

2. Mobley contends Latinos are underrepresented on jury lists in Hall County. However, he has not established with any degree of accuracy the number of Latinos on the jury lists. 1 Thus he has not proved any significant underrepresentation of Latinos. See Hicks v. State, 256 Ga. 715 (7), 352 S.E.2d 762 (1987). 2

3. The trial court did not err by denying Mobley's motion to exclude testimony about the defendant's oral statements. Kelley v. State, 160 Ga.App. 343(3), 287 S.E.2d 68 (1981).

4. Mobley offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. The state refused to accept this offer. 3 Now Mobley wants to introduce evidence at the sentencing phase that he offered to plead guilty but that the state refused the offer. The state objects because it will not be able to tell the jury that one reason it opposed the plea was the possibility that Mobley might be released on parole if not sentenced to death. OCGA § 17-8-76.

We have held that a state may not use against a death-penalty defendant his unsuccessful attempt to plead guilty, see Thomas v. State, 248 Ga. 247 (11), 282 S.E.2d 316 (1981), and we have held that the defendant may not present evidence the state offered a life sentence but withdrew the offer. Davis v. State, 255 Ga. 598(24), 340 S.E.2d 869 (1986). In the former situation, use of a withdrawn plea against the defendant is precluded by OCGA § 17-7-93. In the latter situation, allowing the defendant to use the state's withdrawn offer would "deter or preclude plea bargaining by the state to the detriment of other defendants." Davis v. State, supra at 614, 340 S.E.2d 869. As we noted in Davis, however, a different question might be presented if the "defendant sought to introduce evidence in the sentencing phase of trial that he had offered to plead guilty but the state refused the offer." Id. at 614 (fn. 9), 340 S.E.2d 869.

Giving the defendant the choice to present evidence that he offered to plead guilty would not implicate the defendant's right not to incriminate himself, as was the situation in Thomas, supra. Nor would it deter or preclude plea bargaining by the state, as would proof that the state made an offer of a life sentence, but withdrew it. Here, the defendant offered conditionally to plead guilty and the state refused the offer. If the defendant wishes to inform the jury that he offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, the state reasonably and properly may argue that nothing less than a death sentence is appropriate and ask why the defendant did not simply plead unconditionally and allow the jury to impose sentence. 4 In short, we do not agree that the state would be handicapped in its response, or that it would be unfair to the state to allow the defendant to present evidence of his conditional offer to plead guilty. We see no reason to bar the defendant from presenting this evidence if he elects to do so. 5

5. We affirm the trial court as to those issues addressed in Divisions 1 through 3 of this opinion. We reverse the court's ruling barring the defendant from presenting evidence at the sentencing phase of the trial of his offer to plead guilty in exchange for the state's agreement not to seek a death sentence against him.

Judgment affirmed in part and reversed in part.

CLARKE, C.J., HUNT, P.J., and FLETCHER, J., concur.

BENHAM and HUNSTEIN, JJ., dissent to Division 4 and to the reversal in part.

BENHAM, Justice, dissenting.

I concur in all of the majority opinion except Division 4, to which I respectfully dissent.

Appellant has sought to introduce evidence of his offer to plead guilty to all offenses charged, with the maximum sentence imposed on each charge and the sentences running consecutively, on the condition that the State not seek the death penalty. As to the admissibility of testimony concerning that offer the majority opinion states as follows:

If the defendant wishes to inform the jury that he offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, the state reasonably and properly may argue that nothing less than a death sentence is appropriate and ask why the defendant did not simply plead unconditionally and allow the jury to impose...

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18 cases
  • Mobley v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • March 17, 1995
    ...not required. 5. Mobley's enumerations nos. 20 and 21 are controlled adversely to him by our previous decision in his case. See Mobley v. State, 262 Ga. 808(1) and (3), 426 S.E.2d 150 (1993) ("Mobley I 6. In Mobley I, this court held that Mobley failed to prove that Latinos are underreprese......
  • Gonzalez v. Secretary for Dept. of Corrections
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • April 26, 2004
    ...on the subject had come during an earlier appeal Mobley filed following a mistrial due to error at his first trial. Mobley v. State, 262 Ga. 808, 426 S.E.2d 150 (1993). Mobley asked the Georgia Supreme Court, which had the case before it primarily to decide a double jeopardy issue arising f......
  • Sears v. Humphrey
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • November 18, 2013
    ...two consecutive life sentences, which the defense entered into evidence as authorized by the law at that time, see Mobley v. State, 262 Ga. 808, 811(4), 426 S.E.2d 150 (1993) (holding that a defendant may introduce evidence at the sentencing phase of his capital murder trial that the State ......
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    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • October 28, 2002
    ...Court has addressed the issue of Hall County Hispanics and their representation in Hall County jury pools before. In Mobley v. State, 262 Ga. 808(2), 426 S.E.2d 150 (1993) and Mobley v. State, 265 Ga. 292(6), 455 S.E.2d 61 (1995), this Court affirmed the trial court's orders that Mobley had......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Criminal Law and Procedure: a Two-year Survey - James P. Fleissner
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 48-1, September 1996
    • Invalid date
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