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Johnson v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 21, 2014

JOHNSON
v.
THE STATE

Obstruction of officer. Polk Superior Court. Before Judge Foster, Senior Judge.

Judgment affirmed.

Karen S. Wilkes, for appellant.

Jack Browning, Jr., District Attorney, Melisa A. Mason, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

BOGGS, Judge. Ellington, P. J., Doyle, P. J., Dillard and Branch, JJ., concur. Barnes, P. J., and Miller, J., dissent.

OPINION

Page 534

Boggs, Judge.

A jury convicted Gregory Bernard Johnson of misdemeanor obstruction of an officer, and he appeals. Johnson argues that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain the conviction, and that the trial court erred in denying several of his requests to charge the jury. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

Evidentiary challenges in the appeal of criminal convictions are viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict. Chambers v. State, 252 Ga.App. 190, 190 (1) (556 S.E.2d 444) (2001). On appeal the defendant no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence, and the appellate court determines not the credibility of the witnesses or the weight of the evidence, but rather its sufficiency; that is, it determines whether any rational trier of fact could find the evidence sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Id.

So viewed, the record shows that police officers were on their way to execute a search warrant at the house of the mother of Johnson's son, where officers thought the son lived. The officers saw the son driving nearby, and he agreed to accompany them to his mother's house, but he did not have his house key. The officers forced the door open and began their search. The son was in the back seat of a patrol car during the search.

The son's mother came home shortly after the police began searching, accompanied by the son's cousin, and the mother asked the officers for their search warrant. They told her she could see it when they were done and then ignored her request for them to leave if they did not have a search warrant. The cousin testified that she was protesting loudly on the front porch about the officers' breaking down [330 Ga.App. 76] the door and conducting a warrantless search. At some point, the officers asked the mother to close the front door because the cousin was protesting so loudly but otherwise ignored the two women and continued their search. The cousin testified that when she said loudly that she was about to call the chief of police about the officers breaking into the house without a warrant, an officer left the scene about an hour into the search and returned with a copy of a search warrant.

Meanwhile, defendant Johnson came into the front yard. The cousin told Johnson that the officers only obtained a warrant after they had broken down the door and searched the premises for an hour, and Johnson responded, " [I]f that's the case, then you have your witnesse[s] together when you come [to] court, [and] the judge will dismiss it because ... it was wrong." One of the officers had just photographed the back of the house and another picture of the front when Johnson began yelling, " This s--t's not going to fly." The officer told him to calm down, be quiet, and let him finish documenting the scene, after which he would let Johnson talk to his son.

The officer testified that he explained to Johnson that because he did not live there, he did not have a right to be present and therefore needed to step over to another property, but Johnson refused to leave. According to the officer, Johnson's continued " hollering and cussing ... got everybody else yelling and screaming" a couple of houses down. He testified that he was concerned for his and other officers' safety and could not simply ignore Johnson, because " when I'm trying to take pictures and someone standing behind me hollering and cussing I don't know what they're fixing -- and I've got a gun on my side, I've got to deal with him. I can't take a chance of them grabbing my gun and I don't know what they're going to do in that state of ...


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