Gibbs v. The State


Case Title: Gibbs v. The State

Citation: No. 30076;

235 Ga. 480;

220 S.2ed 254;

1975 Ga. LEXIS 908

Year Decided: 1975

Facts: In 1968 the defendant gave a statement to the police admitting guilt to murder. She gave this statement without a lawyer present. In court, the defendant gave an insanity plea which was accepted. As a result the defendant was committed to a mental hospital. Representatives of the state mental institution determined that the defendant could stand trial. However, the defendant was indicted again for additional murders. In addition to murdering her husband, the defendant was indicted for the murders of her three sons and grandson by the use of poison. This time, the court denied her plea to insanity and overruled the previous plea.

Issue: Did the court fail to provide the defendant with a “speedy, fair, and impartial trail”, (Gibbs v State, 1975, p. 3). Was the defendants constitutional rights violated as observed in the 5th amendment (the use of grand jury), 6th amendment (right to a public trail without unnecessary delay and impartial jury) and 14th amendment (citizenship rights and equality)?

Court Decision: The judgment of the trial court was reversed.

Holding: The plea was overruled due to prejudice observed in the grand jury, (Gibbs v State, 1975, p.3). This was observed as, the trail court systematically excluded Blacks from the grand jury. The 1974 pre-trail court denied the plea of insanity defense and the prior plea was overruled despite the defendant being White.

The court failed to provide the defendant with a “speedy, fair, and impartial trail”, (Gibbs v State, 1975, p.3). There was contradicting statements between the defendants counsel and the state mental hospital. Hospital representatives declared her fit for trail while the counsel was unable to prepare for trail due to her insanity. When the court attempted trail, the defendant was incompetent for trial and thus delayed.

1968 police statements were admitted at trail as evidence. This occurred despite the fact that the defendant was” in custody, without counsel and mentally incompetent to waive her constitutional rights”, (Gibbs v State, 1975, p. 3).

Comment: There were many instances when the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated. The higher court was fair to reverse judgment. By reading through the details of the case, the lower court did many things wrong. It is possible they were blind-sided because the defendant was accused of the murdering five people, including children. I believe the lower court wanted to apply the death penalty to this case. However, when the defendant is declared insane by the state, they become exempt from capital punishment. For this reason, the lower court wanted to bring the case to trail quickly. Doing this, the court failed to provide the defendant with a fair trial.


About Russia Robinson

I am an independent freelance writer and free thinker. I strive to use my writing talents to benefit the greater good of society, one word, one sentence, one page at a time. Originally from Richmond, California I attended San Francisco State University receiving a BA in English Creative Writing and American Literature in 2004. After this I attended post graduate studies in 2008 at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University in Technical Writing. With an academic background in English, I have spent more than 10 years’ helping young people succeed. This can be seen in my career background in education and mental health. I am a certifiable Language Arts teacher for the state of Georgia. I also worked in social services including juvenile mental health treatment services and counseling. As a result, I understand the diversity of problems people face in their everyday lives. With words put together like so, I promote equality and a healthy society for all people regardless of individual differences. Conducting research, writing articles, essays, and blogging, I push to educate others about various issues that affect people. I also do this creatively through short stories, poems, pictures, and a novel in progress. My hobbies and interest are reading and learning. I enjoy all things art and all things nature. From camping and astronomy to photography and cooking, I enjoy sighting seeing and socializing just as much as I enjoy curling in bed with a good book or binge watching TV.
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