Dedicated representation in Georgia's trial, appellate, and habeas courts

Stephen M. Reba

A former two-time NCAA all-American pitcher at Clemson University, Steve brings to his law office the same drive to win he brought to the mound. Priding himself on producing positive outcomes, as was the case in both his collegiate and professional baseball careers, Steve’s success is born from preparedness and persistence.

In addition to his private practice, Steve is an adjunct clinical instructor at Emory Law School’s Barton Child Law and Policy Center, where he directs the Appeal for Youth Clinic. The Clinic provides representation to Georgia children who have been criminally tried as adults. Since 2009, Steve’s litigation has been instrumental in altering the lives of his clients and shaping the laws that govern child defendants in Georgia.

Steve received his undergraduate degree from Clemson University and his law degree from John Marshall Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the law journal. Steve is a graduate of LEAD Atlanta, and has served on two gubernatorial commissions focusing on Georgia’s juvenile justice system.

Steve lives in Avondale Estates, Georgia, with his wife and three children.

Recent Appellate Cases of Note

Jones v. State, A19A0129 (2019)

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Steve won his client, convicted and sentenced to 30 years, a new trial due to his counsel’s ineffective assistance for failing to object to the State’s improper use of a prior conviction taken under Georgia’s First Offender Act. The State appealed the grant of the new trial, and a decision is forthcoming from the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Bourassa v. State, 345 Ga. App. 463 (2018)

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted Steve’s petition for a writ of certiorari, asking the parties to brief whether the trial court and the Georgia Court of Appeals erred in finding that Steve’s client lacked standing to suppress his intercepted telephone conversations. Steve argued the case before the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court and a decision is forthcoming from the State’s highest court.

Chamu v. U.S. Attorney General, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals 14-12053 (2017)

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Steve, in 2017, successfully vacated his client’s order of deportation, arguing an error in the lower proceedings consented to by the Government on appeal, thereby allowing his client to remain with his wife and children in the United States. Prior to the vacatur, Steve successfully argued, in 2014, against the Government’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

Aranda v. U.S. Attorney General, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals 16-11702 (2017)

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Steve successfully vacated his client’s order of deportation from the United States, arguing an error in the lower proceedings consented to by the Government on appeal. Ultimately, the client’s Legal Permanent Residency was reinstated.

Chua v. Johnson, 336 Ga. App. 298 (2016)

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Steve and his fellow counsel successfully argued to the Georgia Court of Appeals for the reversal of the trial court’s refusal to produce a memorandum in the District Attorney’s possession. Located by Steve during an open records inspection for a pending habeas corpus petition, the memorandum showed the State utilized illegal and secretive tactics in jury selection, which led to his client’s conviction for murder.

In re D.D., 335 Ga. App. 676 (2016)

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Steve successfully argued to the Georgia Court of Appeals, reversing his client’s sentence for involuntary manslaughter and battery, that the trial court entered an illegal sentence by expressly denying credit for time served, imposing conditions upon the two-year commitment, and ordering restitution without holding a hearing.

Encarnacion v. State, 295 Ga. 660 (2014)

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Steve successfully argued to the Georgia Supreme Court, reversing the denial of his Client’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, that criminal trial counsel must accurately advise a non-citizen defendant of the immigration consequences of a felony guilty plea.

Hernandez-Espino v. State, 324 Ga. App. 849 (2013)

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Steve successfully argued to the Georgia Court of Appeals, voting four to three, that the police’s stop and search of his client were violative of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Georgia Court of Appeals wrote that the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution was designed “to sacrifice a little safety to purchase liberty.”

Moore v. State, 293 Ga. 705 (2013)

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Steve successfully argued for the vacation of his client’s life without parole sentence. Adopting his argument, the Georgia Supreme Court found that the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons, which bars imposition of the death penalty for offenses committed by a youth under the age of 18, retroactively applies to Georgia’s sentencing scheme and invalidates the sentence.

Fulton County Board of Education v. D.R.H., 325 Ga. App. 53 (2013)

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Steve successfully argued for the reversal of thirty years of State Board of Education precedent precluding disciplined students from challenging their expulsion or suspension once the term of discipline had expired. Although reversed on other grounds, the decision marked a victory for Georgia students and their ability to access public education.

In re L.R., 316 Ga. App. 374 (2012)

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Steve successfully argued to the Georgia Court of Appeals that the trial court violated former OCGA § 15-11-63 (e) (1) (b) – now OCGA § 15-11-602 – in expressly providing that his client would receive no credit for pre-disposition detention.

Hill v. State, 309 Ga. App. 531 (2011)

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Steve and his fellow lawyers successfully argued for the vacation of their client’s aggravated assault conviction and sentence entered in superior court. In a case of first impression, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that Georgia law strictly required the return of an indictment against a juvenile within 180 days from the date of detention. Vacating his client’s conviction and sentence, the Court of Appeals ordered the client’s release from prison and the case to be transferred to juvenile court.

Relevant Publications

Reba, Waldman, Woodhouse, I Want to Talk to My Mom: The Role of Parents in Police Interrogations of Juveniles, JUSTICE FOR KIDS, Chp. 10, (New York University Press 2011).

Reba, Waldman, Suspending Reason: An Analysis of Georgia’s Off-Campus Suspension Statute, 1 JMLRJ 1 (Westlaw cite) (2008).

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