Jorge Ventura v. State

FIRST DIVISION BARNES, P. J., MCMILLIAN and REESE, JJ. NOTICE: Motions for reconsideration must be physically received in our clerk’s office within ten days of the date of decision to be deemed timely filed. June 14, 2018 In the Court of Appeals of Georgia A18A0479. VENTURA v. THE STATE. BARNES, Presiding Judge. Jorge Ventura was convicted by a Cobb County jury of two counts of child molestation and one count of enticing a child for indecent purposes. Thereafter, Ventura filed a motion and amended motion for new trial, which the trial court denied. On appeal, Ventura contends that the prosecutor should have been disqualified because of a conflict of interest, the trial court erred by failing to permit questions about witness bias or motive, trial counsel was ineffective, and that he did not have proper notice that he might be charged with the lesser included offense of child molestation. Upon our review and consideration of Ventura’s alleged errors, we affirm. 1. Ventura does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, however, construed in the light most favorable to the verdict, Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U. S. 307 (99 SCt 2781, 61 LE2d 560) (1979), the evidence shows that after Ventura met the victim on Facebook, he visited her at her home, forced the 13-year-old victim into her bedroom, locked the door, pulled down her pants, and inserted his finger into her vagina and fondled her breasts. This evidence was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to find Ventura guilty of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt. See Castaneda v. State, 315 Ga. App. 723 (1) (727 SE2d 543) (2012). 2. Ventura contends that the prosecutor had a conflict of interest and should have been disqualified because her husband had previously represented him in an unrelated felony case in Cobb County. He contends that during his representation the prosecutor’s husband learned confidential information about him which he “may have unwittingly shared” with the prosecutor. Further, according to Ventura, the same rules of professional conduct which prohibit partner and associates at a disqualified attorney’s law firm from accepting employment, should be employed in this circumstance. In denying Ventura’s motion for new trial on this ground and ascertaining no conflict of interest, the trial court found that nothing in the Georgia 2 Rules of professional conduct prohibit a prosecutor from prosecuting the former client of his or her spouse. We agree. During the preliminary hearing before trial, the prosecutor disclosed that her husband had previously represented Ventura in a 2010 conviction for terroristic threats. And that, in the event Ventura elected to testify, “the State could be tendering that certified conviction against Ventura.” Ventura’s attorney responded that he did not see “any conflict . . . [with] the mere fact that [the prosecutor’s] husband stood beside [Ventura] when he entered a plea.” Ventura acknowledged that he was aware of the relationship, but responded when asked if he was satisfied that there was no conflict, you’re husband and wife. I mean, ...

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