SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA
January 13, 2003
The Supreme Court today issued written opinions in the
cases listed below. Hard copies of opinions are available for $5.00 each in
the Clerk's Office, 244 Washington Street, Room 572, Atlanta, GA 30334. The
Clerk's Office telephone number is (404) 656-3470. Opinions
are also available in Adobe Acrobat format on-line at the Court's webpage.
The Supreme Court's web address is:
The Supreme Court of Georgia has reversed a Fayette County Juvenile
Court judge, holding as it did in Powell v. The State, that "the
Georgia Constitution protects from criminal sanction private, unforced,
non-commercial acts of sexual intimacy between persons legally able to
consent." IN RE: J.M., S02A1432.
In Georgia a person must be sixteen in order to "legally consent to
sexual intercourse." J.M., who was sixteen at the time, was discovered
"having sexual intercourse with his sixteen-year-old girlfriend" in
her bedroom. The Court reasoned that the sixteen-years-olds "intended to
keep their sexual activity private and took reasonable steps to ensure their
privacy" by closing the bedroom door as well as wedging a stool against
it to prevent intrusion.
The State contended that because the sexual acts took place in someone
else's home, J. M. had no expectation of privacy. The Supreme Court rejected
"the broad assertion that people abandon their constitutional guarantee
to privacy when they enter as guests into the private home of another."
The State also contended that it has an interest in "protecting people
from engaging in sexual acts against their will." Here, however, the
Court found that the sixteen-years-olds "were legally capable of
consenting, and they willingly engaged in sexual intercourse." The Court
went on to note that "nothing in this opinion should be read to address
G.D.'s parents' rights to regulate what occurs inside their home, including
who enters their house and under what circumstances."
Chief Justice Norman S. Fletcher wrote the opinion for the Court. Presiding
Justice Leah Ward Sears concurred in the judgment only.
Attorneys for Appellant: Catherine B. Sanderson; Gerald R. Weber, Jr.
Attorneys for Appellee: William T. McBroom, III, D.A.
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