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Judge Harold R. Banke.
Obstruction of an officer, etc. Henry Superior Court. Before Judge Smith.
Aaron Dennis was convicted of two counts of misdemeanor obstruction of an officer, two counts of felony obstruction of an officer, interference with government property, and simple battery. He enumerates four errors.
The State's evidence revealed that these charges arose after Dennis's wife informed police that Dennis had physically abused her. She reported the incident in person because as she was telephoning, Dennis jerked the cord from the wall. Two police officers followed her home to investigate and attempted to talk with Dennis, who is hearing impaired. After Dennis cursed them, ordered them to leave, and pulled out a machete, the officers called for assistance. During the subsequent attempt to arrest Dennis, he kicked, butted, and hit them. As the officers transported Dennis to the police station, he broke a window on the patrol car and escaped. During the ensuing pursuit, he hit an officer in the nose and threatened the others. Held:
1. The trial court properly denied Dennis's motion for directed verdict because the evidence was sufficient to show that one of the arresting officers, who had just completed his basic training course at the police academy and was a sworn reserve officer with arrest powers, was a "law enforcement officer" within the meaning of OCGA 16-10-24. Proof that the law enforcement officer was certified is not an essential element of OCGA 16-10-24.
3. We reject Dennis's argument that a modified Allen charge given at the close of the first day of jury deliberations was coercive. 1 See Romine v. State, 256 Ga. 521, 526-527 (1) (350 SE2d 446) (1986) (discussing the parameters of the jury charge authorized under Allen v. United States, 164 U. S. 492 (17 SC 154, 41 LE 528) (1896)). The charge essentially instructed the jury that failing to agree would cause a mistrial resulting in another trial by another jury. This is not unduly coercive. Hardy v. State, 242 Ga. 702, 706 (4) (f) (251 SE2d 289) (1978); see McMillan v. State, 253 Ga. 520, 523 (4) (322 SE2d 278) (1984).
4. The trial court's jury charge on misdemeanor obstruction did not misinform the jury. The court charged that the definition of misdemeanor obstruction was identical to felony obstruction except that "misdemeanor obstruction is not offering to do violence, but simply resisting arrest." Although the better practice would have been to fully charge on both misdemeanor and felony obstruction, the charge given, considered as a whole, communicated all the elements of misdemeanor obstruction in a manner not likely to mislead the jury. Brown v. State, 197 Ga. App. 365, 366 (2) (398 SE2d 424) (1990); see Parks v. State, 234 Ga. 579, 582 (2) (216 SE2d 804) (1975) (charging in the exact language of the code is not required).
1  The statement at issue is as follows: "If you do not arrive at a verdict in this case, that cannot be helped, but another jury might have to be impaneled to decipher and to try the same issues which you, ladies and gentlemen, are charged with resolving."
Tommy K. Floyd, District Attorney, Thomas R. McBerry, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.
James P. Brown, Jr., for appellant.
Thursday May 21 05:29 EDT

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