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Walker v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

March 3, 2015

WALKER
v.
THE STATE

Juvenile; indictment. Dodge Superior Court. Before Judge Wall.

Judgment affirmed.

Stephen M. Reba, for appellant.

Timothy G. Vaughn, District Attorney, Lauren C. Finley, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

BARNES, Presiding Judge. Boggs and Branch, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 603

Barnes, Presiding Judge.

Kenzel Walker entered a negotiated plea of guilty to felony obstruction of an officer. He now appeals and contends that the superior court lacked jurisdiction to grant the State's motion for an [330 Ga.App. 873] extension of time in which to indict Walker and, thus erred in denying his transfer to juvenile court. Consequently, Walker further contends, the superior court lacked jurisdiction to accept his guilty plea, and he seeks to have his judgment of conviction vacated and the case returned to juvenile court. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

On February 3, 2011, Walker, then 15 years old and confined to the Eastman Youth Development Campus, was involved in an altercation with a guard at the facility. As a result of the altercation, on May 3, 2011, a complaint and petition was filed in juvenile court charging Walker with aggravated assault. The State filed a motion to transfer the case to superior court, which, following a hearing, the juvenile court granted on August 2, 2011, the last date the State could indict Walker under OCGA § 17-7-50.1.[1]

On that same day, the State filed a motion for an extension of time to indict Walker.[2] At the hearing on the motion, which was also held on August 2, Walker objected to the extension of time and argued that the superior court lacked jurisdiction to hear the motion because the juvenile court's transfer order had not yet been filed with the clerk. Walker further maintained that he had only a " five-minute" notice that the motion for an extension of time had been filed, and that the extension would impact his ability to appeal the juvenile court's final order transferring the case, should he decide to appeal the order. Thereafter, the trial court granted the State's motion, noting the limitations resulting from Dodge County only having three grand juries a year, and upon finding that a 90-day extension beyond the statutory period would not prejudice Walker. Walker was subsequently indicted for aggravated assault on September 26, 2011. On September 26, 2013, Walker filed a motion for an automatic transfer back to juvenile court essentially asserting that, because he had not been indicted within 180 days and there was no valid order transferring the case to superior court, the superior court did not have jurisdiction to extend the indictment period beyond 180 days. The trial court denied the motion, and found that the transfer from juvenile court order had been filed before the superior court considered the State's motion for an extension of time. Subsequently, on February 24, 2014, Walker entered a negotiated plea to felony obstruction. This appeal ensued.

[330 Ga.App. 874] Walker contends that the superior court lacked jurisdiction to grant the State's motion for an extension of the 180 days in which to indict because the juvenile court's

Page 604

order was not signed and, thus, also lacked jurisdiction to accept ...


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