Ross v. State

Decision Date02 March 1977
Docket NumberNos. 31792,32026,s. 31792
Citation238 Ga. 445,233 S.E.2d 381
PartiesWillie ROSS v. The STATE. Jessie Lewis PULLIAM v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

Sam J. Gardner, Jr., Moultrie, David E. Kendall, New York City, John R. Myer, Atlanta, for appellant Willie Ross.

Millard C. Farmer, Jr., Newnan, John R. Myer, Atlanta, for Jessie Pulliam.

H. Lamar Cole, Dist. Atty., Valdosta, for appellee in No. 31792.

Arthur K. Bolton, Atty. Gen., Kirby G. Atkinson, Asst. Atty. Gen., Atlanta, amicus curiae in No. 31792.

William F. Lee, Jr., Dist. Atty., Robert H. Sullivan, Asst. Dist. Atty., LaGrange, for appellee in No. 32026.

HILL, Justice.

Plaintiff-appellant Ross was sentenced to death by a jury on March 13, 1974, and his conviction and sentence were affirmed in Ross v. State, 233 Ga. 361, 211 S.E.2d 356 (1974), cert. denied, 428 U.S. 910, 96 S.Ct. 3222, 49 L.Ed.2d 1217 (1976). Pulliam was sentenced to death by a jury on August 12, 1975, and his conviction and sentence were affirmed in Pulliam v. State, 236 Ga. 460, 224 S.E.2d 8 (1976), cert. denied, 428 U.S. 911, 96 S.Ct. 3225, 49 L.Ed.2d 1219 (1976).

On July 2, 1976, after Ross and Pulliam were sentenced, the constitutionality of Georgia's death penalty statute, Ga.L.1973, pp. 159-172, was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976). Ross and Pulliam now contend that the juries which sentenced them may have been influenced by a belief that the death sentence would not be inflicted because the death penalty was unconstitutional. They refer to this alleged misapprehension as the "Private Slovik syndrome." See, The Execution of Private Slovik, William Bradford Huie (1954), esp. p. 169.

Ross and Pulliam filed petitions for declaratory judgment alleging that their juries were influenced by this constitutional doubt and seeking a resentencing trial by jury or, alternatively, a summonsing and poll of their sentencing juries. The petitions were dismissed (Ross' petition was dismissed without hearing), and petitioners have appealed. We affirm.

It has been held that a suit for declaratory judgment cannot be maintained by a person accused of crime where the alleged criminal conduct has already taken place. See Pendleton v. City of Atlanta, 236 Ga. 479, 224 S.E.2d 357 (1976), and cases cited; Tierce v. Davis, 121 Ga.App. 31, 172 S.E.2d 488 (1970); see also Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. United Family Life Ins. Co., 233 Ga. 540(2), 212 S.E.2d 326 (1975). It necessarily follows that actions for declaratory judgment are not maintainable by persons already convicted of crimes who wish to examine or reexamine aspects of the conviction or sentence for...

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8 cases
  • Ingram v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • November 27, 1984
    ...has previously been rejected. Horton v. State, supra; Gilreath v. State, 247 Ga. 814(5), 279 S.E.2d 650 (1981); see Ross v. State, 238 Ga. 445, 233 S.E.2d 381 (1977). Enumeration 21 therefore is without 3. In his 27th enumeration, defendant contends the trial court erred by denying his moti......
  • Gilreath v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • June 30, 1981
    ...the jury sworn in the defendant's presence.11 This is an updated version of the "Private Slovik syndrome" argument. See Ross v. State, 238 Ga. 445, 233 S.E.2d 381 (1977).12 The defendant did argue to the jury: "The buck stops right here, Ladies and Gentlemen. The only person who can sentenc......
  • Ross v. Kemp
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • March 25, 1985
    ...death penalty statute. The petition for declaratory judgment was denied, and the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. Ross v. State, 238 Ga. 445, 233 S.E.2d 381 (1977). Ross then filed a petition for federal habeas corpus relief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ge......
  • v. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc.
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • May 9, 2016
    ...the constitutionality of a municipal ordinance where the alleged criminal activity has already taken place.”); Ross v. State, 238 Ga. 445, 445, 233 S.E.2d 381 (1977) (recognizing that a declaratory action is “not maintainable by persons already convicted of crimes who wish to examine or ree......
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