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Jordan v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia, First Division

January 19, 2018

JORDAN
v.
THE STATE. JORDAN
v.
THE STATE.

          BARNES, P. J., MCMILLIAN and MERCIER, JJ.

          McMillian, Judge.

         Appellants Roderick Jordan and Dennis Alonzo Jordan[1] were tried together before a jury and convicted of armed robbery. Appellants filed separate motions for new trial, which the trial court denied following a hearing. They appeal and argue that the trial court abused its discretion in denying their request for a postponement of the trial after bench warrants were issued in the presence of the prospective jurors. Roderick also contends that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to recall the victim to testify after he was cross-examined by appellants. Dennis challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to convict him and asserts that the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce his prior convictions and in charging the jury on the consideration of this evidence. Having considered these contentions, we now affirm.

         Construed to support the jury's verdict, [2] the evidence shows that the victim, was in his apartment on the morning of October 24, 2012. He heard a knock on the door and saw Dennis Jordan, whom the victim knew as "Ike, " standing at his door. The victim let Dennis into his apartment and closed but did not lock his door.

         As the victim and Dennis were standing in the living room talking, [3] a man wearing a mask partially covering his face suddenly pushed open the door and rushed in. The victim also recognized this man and identified him as Dennis' brother Roderick, whom the victim knew as "Pie." Roderick pulled out a knife and pushed the victim to the floor and held him down while taking money out of his wallet and front pocket. Roderick then jumped off the victim, brandished a hammer, and walked into the kitchen and took an envelope containing $300 off the table. The men then left the apartment together. The victim testified that although Dennis just stood in the living room and did not actively participate in the robbery, Roderick asked Dennis several times "Are you sure you didn't tell him who I was?"

         The victim called police, and the crime was investigated by an investigator with the Thomaston Police Department. The investigator interviewed a neighbor, who said he saw two men, fitting the height and weight descriptions of appellants, drive up in a beige or champagne colored Chevrolet and park across the street from the apartment.[4] He observed one of the men get out of the vehicle and walk around to the back of the apartment building, and then a few minutes later the other man got out and went to the trunk of the vehicle, retrieved something from the trunk, and placed it in his pants. This man then also walked around "where the other fellow went" behind the apartment.

         Based on the information the victim gave to her, the investigator prepared photographic line-ups containing appellants' pictures.[5] The victim identified appellants from the line-ups, and they were subsequently arrested and charged, and convicted of armed robbery. These appeals followed.

         Case No. A17A1580

         1. Roderick first argues the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to postpone the proceedings until a new jury venire could be convened after appellants failed to timely return to court after lunch and the trial court issued a bench warrant for his arrest in the presence of the prospective jurors.[6]

         The record shows that appellants had been instructed to return to court at 1:30 p.m. after the lunch break. Appellants failed to appear, and the trial court indicated during a bench conference that it would issue a bench warrant and bond forfeiture. After the court attended to some unrelated matters, the court again called for the appellants, and the court issued the bench warrant and bond forfeiture in the presence of the prospective jurors.

         Appellants then entered the courtroom, and the court admonished them that they were supposed to be there at 1:30 p.m. Dennis' counsel objected to the issuance of the warrant in the presence of the venire, and the court indicated it would let her put her objection on the record at a later time. The trial court proceeded to propound the statutory questions, but then Roderick's counsel asked to approach the bench and informed the judge that appellants appeared to be intoxicated. The trial court dismissed the prospective jurors and, after it was determined that appellants were in fact under the influence, ordered them incarcerated and the proceedings continued to another day. The trial court also allowed counsel to perfect her objection about the case going forward before the same potentially prejudiced jurors who had been present when the bench warrant was issued, but refused to continue the proceedings to allow a new venire to be seated.

         When prospective jurors who have not been impaneled or sworn are exposed to prejudicial remarks, the prejudiced party has two potential remedies: (1) the more "extreme remedy" of postponement until a new panel of jurors can be impaneled or (2) a challenge to the poll.[7] Bankston v. State, 169 Ga.App. 955, 955 (1) (315 S.E.2d 671) (1984); see also Bell v. State, 311 Ga.App. 289, 292 (2) (715 S.E.2d 684) (2011); Nave v. State, 171 Ga.App. 165 (318 S.E.2d 753) (1984).

         Here, appellants sought the extreme remedy of postponement, apparently because all of the potential jurors summoned for the week were in the courtroom. However, appellants have failed to show that they were prejudiced by the issuance of the bench warrants. Appellants did not request or attempt to question the prospective jurors about the effect of the issuance of the bench warrants. And none of the potential jurors responded affirmatively to the statutory voir dire questions concerning whether they had formed any opinion concerning the guilt or innocence of appellants, or were prejudiced for or against appellants, and none of them disputed that they were "perfectly impartial." Also, none of the members of the venire gave any other indication that they had been prejudiced by the issuance of the warrants or bond forfeiture against appellants. Further, appellants did in fact appear in court shortly after the bench warrants were issued, and the prospective jurors knew they had simply been late returning from lunch and had not in fact failed to appear. Under these circumstances, and in the absence of any showing of possible prejudice, we find no abuse of discretion in the denial of the request for a postponement or continuance.

         2. Roderick also argues the trial court erred when it denied his request to recall the victim to ...


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