Ross v. Hopper, 32569

Citation240 S.E.2d 850,240 Ga. 369
Decision Date29 November 1977
Docket NumberNo. 32569,32569
PartiesWillie X. ROSS v. Joe S. HOPPER, Warden.
CourtSupreme Court of Georgia

David E. Kendall, Jack Greenberg, New York City, Anthony G. Amsterdam, Stanford, Cal., C. B. King, Herbert E. Phipps, Albany, for appellant.

Arthur K. Bolton, Atty. Gen., Kirby G. Atkinson, Asst. Atty. Gen., Atlanta, H. Lamar Cole, Dist. Atty., Valdosta, for appellee.

JORDAN, Justice.

Willie X. Ross filed a petition for habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Tattnall County which was denied on March 22, 1977. He appeals, asserting eight enumerations of error.

Willie X. Ross was convicted on March 13, 1974, for the murder of police officer T. J. Meredith for which he received a death sentence; the armed robbery of Robert Lee, for which he received a life sentence; and the kidnapping of Wandell Norman for which he received a sentence of twenty years. These convictions were affirmed by this court in Ross v. State, 233 Ga. 361, 211 S.E.2d 356 (1974) and certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States on July 6, 1976. Ross v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 910, 96 S.Ct. 3222, 49 L.Ed.2d 1217 (1976). He then attacked his conviction on motion for declaratory judgment, which was denied and affirmed by this court in Ross v. State, 238 Ga. 445, 233 S.E.2d 381 (1977). He filed this habeas corpus petition and a stay of execution was granted on November 8, 1976.

1. The appellant first contends that certain of his constitutional rights were violated when the state knowingly and intentionally used the perjured testimony of Theodore Ross. Upon the trial of Willie X. Ross, his brother Theodore Ross, testified that Willie admitted to him that he shot Officer Meredith. At the habeas hearing Ross testified that he had not told the truth when he made that statement. He stated on cross examination that some of the testimony which he gave on the trial of Willie was false and that some of it was true. The burden was on the appellant at his habeas hearing to prove that Theodore Ross' testimony was not only perjured, but that it was knowingly and intentionally used by the state to obtain a conviction. At the habeas hearing the District Attorney testified that at the trial of Willie X. Ross state's witness Bobby Gamble also testified that Willie X. Ross told him that he believed that he had shot the policeman. On the basis of this testimony the habeas judge concluded that there was "no credible testimony that the state knowingly and intentionally used perjured testimony at the trial of Willie X. Ross." In our opinion the evidence at the habeas hearing clearly authorized this finding and conclusion of the habeas judge.

2. On the date of the habeas hearing, appellant filed a motion for appointment of experts, contending that he was entitled to state-paid investigative and research assistance in order to establish his claim that the death penalty in Georgia is arbitrarily imposed. The record shows that the appellant was represented at the habeas hearing by three well-qualified attorneys. These attorneys had ample time to obtain all necessary records and statistics in order to undertake such a showing. As we stated in Ross v. State, supra, the records of all prior and similar cases which this court uses as a standard of review are available for inspection by all defendants, indigent or otherwise, as part of the public records of this court. The denial of state investigative and research assistance to the appellant, though an indigent, was not a denial of his rights under the Federal or State Constitution. See Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976).

3. Appellant at his habeas hearing offered the testimony of a person who he contended was an expert in his field and whose testimony would support the allegations that a death qualified jury did not constitute a representative cross-section of the community. Pretermitting the question of whether or not the trial judge abused his discretion in not receiving this testimony, such was harmless in view of the fact that this court has consistently rejected this argument. See House v. Stynchcombe, 239 Ga. 222, 236 S.E.2d 353 (1977); McCorquodale v. Stynchcombe, 239 Ga. 138, 236 S.E.2d 486 (1977); Smith v. Hopper, 240 Ga. 93, 239 S.E.2d 510 (1977).

4. Appellant next contends that his death sentence was obtained pursuant to a pattern of discrimination by prosecuting attorneys, courts, juries and governors of this state based on race, sex and poverty. In support of this contention the appellant offered the testimony of an expert witness to prove that race was a factor in the imposition of the death penalty in Georgia. This expert's testimony was largely based on his analysis of data gathered prior to the decision in Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 92 S.Ct. 2726, 33 L.Ed.2d 346 (1972). The habeas judge noted that this contention was apparently rejected by the United States Supreme Court in the Gregg case, supra. While one of the appellant's confederates, Rudolph Turner, was found guilty of murder armed robbery and kidnapping arising from the same incident and received only a life sentence, evidence before the habeas court indicated that the state's theory in the appellant's case was that the appellant was the "trigger" man in the homicide. The evidence submitted by the appellant was insufficient to show that the death penalty was arbitrarily and capriciously imposed in his case as a result of deliberate discrimination based upon race, sex or poverty.

5. Appellant contends that the imposition of his death...

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13 cases
  • Ross v. Hopper
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • October 3, 1983
    ...then petitioned for state habeas corpus relief. After a hearing, relief was denied. That decision was affirmed in Ross v. Hopper, 240 Ga. 369, 240 S.E.2d 850 (1977), cert. denied, 435 U.S. 1018, 98 S.Ct. 1890, 56 L.Ed.2d 397 (1978). Appellant filed a petition for federal habeas corpus relie......
  • Ross v. Kemp
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 25, 1985
    ...Ross petitioned for state habeas corpus relief, but, after a hearing, relief was denied. That decision was affirmed in Ross v. Hopper, 240 Ga. 369, 240 S.E.2d 850 (1977), cert. denied, 435 U.S. 1018, 98 S.Ct. 1890, 56 L.Ed.2d 397 (1978). Meanwhile, Ross filed a petition for declaratory judg......
  • Mitchell v. Hopper
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Georgia
    • April 1, 1982
    ...for state habeas corpus relief was denied by Judge Paul E. Caswell on March 22, 1977. This decision was affirmed in Ross v. Hopper, 240 Ga. 369, 240 S.E.2d 850 (1977), cert. denied, 435 U.S. 1018, 98 S.Ct. 1890, 56 L.Ed.2d 397 (1978). James Lee Spencer was convicted of murder, aggravated as......
  • Ross v. Kemp
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 20, 1986
    ...affirmed, stating it had fully considered all of Ross' contentions but found that he was fairly tried and convicted. Ross v. Hopper, 240 Ga. 369, 240 S.E.2d 850, 853 (1977), cert. denied, 435 U.S. 1018, 98 S.Ct. 1890, 56 L.Ed.2d 397 In 1978, Ross filed a petition for federal habeas corpus r......
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