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Smith v State – the Rule of Sequestration – its not just for breakfast anymore

In Smith v. State, A13A1441, October 3, 2013, the Georgia Court of Appeals found that rule of sequestration of witnesses, where one witness can not watch another witness testify, applies to both jury trials, Judge trials, and preliminary motion hearings in Georgia DUI cases.  At the Trial Court in the Gwinnett County State Court in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the State had argued and the Trial Judge had agreed that the rule of sequestration did not apply to motion hearings before trial but just at a Judge Trial or Jury Trial after the first witness had been sworn.  The Court of Appeals disagreed and sent the DUI case back for a re-trial.

The Court also ruled that a blood test taken after being released from jail that showed no indication of marijuana was not relevant in a DUI alcohol case when the Defendant had initially refused a blood test at the request of police but later changed her mind as marijuana impairment was not at issue in the case as the marijuana charges had been dismissed.  Query: what about the issue of whether she actually refused a blood test and later claimed that she rescinded the refusal before arriving at jail? Seems relevant to that issue if the refusal was not excluded.  See, Department of Public Safety v. Seay, 206 Ga. App. 71 (1992). 

-Author: George Creal

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