Schrader v. State, A22A0067

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtBarnes, Presiding Judge.
PartiesSCHRADER v. THE STATE.
Docket NumberA22A0067
Decision Date30 June 2022

SCHRADER
v.

THE STATE.

No. A22A0067

Court of Appeals of Georgia, First Division

June 30, 2022


BARNES, P. J., BROWN and HODGES, JJ.

Barnes, Presiding Judge.

This appeal contests the denial of a plea in bar. The trial court found, among other things, that the plea in bar was not timely filed. Because no reversible error has been shown in that finding, we affirm.

The background facts are as follows. In 2019, Kathryn Schrader was indicted on three counts of Computer Trespass. At a trial held in February 2020, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, so the judge presiding over the trial declared a mistrial.

Later that year, on November 6, 2020, the grand jury returned an indictment charging Schrader with six offenses: (Count 1) Computer Trespass; (Count 2) Computer Password Disclosure; (Count 3) Computer Theft; (Counts 4 and 5) two

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counts of Tampering with Evidence; and (Count 6) Violation of Oath of Office by a Public Officer.[1] On December 4, 2020, Schrader was arraigned on that indictment and entered a plea of not guilty. The following month, the State moved to nolle prosse the 2019 indictment; the trial court granted that motion, entering an order on January 29, 2021.

About a week later, on February 5, 2021, Schrader filed the plea in bar contending that Counts 2 through 6 (that is, all but the "Computer Trespass" count) were barred under double jeopardy principles pursuant to OCGA §§ 16-1-7 (b)[2] and 16-1-8.

Under OCGA § 16-1-7 (b), if several crimes (1) arising from the same conduct are (2) known to the proper prosecuting officer at the time of commencing the prosecution and are (3) within the jurisdiction of a single court, they must be prosecuted in a single prosecution. A second prosecution is barred under OCGA § 16-1-8 (b) (1) if it is for crimes
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which should have been brought in the first prosecution under OCGA § 16-1-7 (b). In order for this procedural aspect of double jeopardy to prohibit a prosecution, all three prongs must be satisfied

(Citation and punctuation omitted; emphasis supplied.) Daniels v. State, 355 Ga.App. 134, 135-136 (843 S.E.2d 18) (2020); see Maxwell v. State, 311 Ga. 673, 676-677 (2) (859 S.E.2d 58) (2021) (expounding upon procedural double jeopardy). "The defendant bears the burden of proving procedural double jeopardy, and a court must make decisions based on the limited facts or representations that are currently available from the parties." Maxwell, 311 Ga. at 678 (2).

At a hearing held in this case, Schrader contended that the plea in bar was timely filed, and that Counts 2 through 6 were prohibited as falling within OCGA § 16-1-7 (b). The trial court rejected Schrader's positions, and denied the plea in bar.

1. As an initial matter, we note that the prohibition against double jeopardy has two aspects. See Howard v. State, 301 Ga.App. 230, 231 (687 S.E.2d 257) (2009). One aspect prohibits certain successive prosecutions; it is referred to as the procedural bar against double jeopardy. Id.; see Maxwell, 311 Ga. at 677 (2). The other aspect prohibits successive punishments for the same offense; it is referred to

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as the substantive bar against double jeopardy. Howard, 301 Ga.App. at 231; see Johnson v. State, 313 Ga. 155, 157-158 (3) (868 S.E.2d 226) (2022).

As indicated above, Schrader's plea in bar was based on the procedural aspect of double jeopardy. 2. Schrader contends that the trial court erred by finding that her plea was not timely raised.

The State counters that Schrader failed to comply with the deadline contained in OCGA § 17-7-110, which states in full: "All pretrial motions, including demurrers and special pleas, shall be filed within ten days after the date of arraignment, unless the time for filing is extended by the court." As the record shows, Schrader did not file her plea in bar until two months after her arraignment on the indictment charging the contested Counts 2 through 6.

(a) Schrader argued at the hearing below that OCGA § 17-7-110 did not render her plea in bar untimely. As she maintains on appeal, the double jeopardy issue did not become ripe until January 29, 2021 (when the nolle prosse order was entered, thereby ending the first prosecution). Given that premise, Schrader claims that her plea in bar - filed within ten days of when the nolle prosse order was entered - was timely, asserting further that "a Plea in Bar must be filed before trial."

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Schrader's position lacks merit, however, in light of Davis v. State, 307 Ga. 784 (838 S.E.2d 233) (2020). In that case, the Supreme Court recited that "[u]nder Georgia law, a prosecution commences with the return of an indictment or the filing of an accusation";[3] the Court also defined that a "plea in bar is a challenge to the validity of an indictment"; and the Court described that the "special" plea in bar in that case - resting on its premise that, even if all the facts as alleged in the indictment are true, the defendant could not be held liable due to the applicable statute of limitation[4] - sought to "defeat the prosecutor's action completely and permanently." Id. at 786-787 (2). Further, the Court reasoned, there was nothing for a plea in bar to defeat "until either an indictment or an accusation [was] filed." (Emphasis supplied.) Id. at 786 (2).

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Here, Schrader sought to defeat the prosecutor's...

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