Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for violating a public safety fire rule, holding that Defendant’s arguments on appeal were unavailing. Defendant was convicted of failing to comply with section 24.2.2.3.3 of the 2009 edition of the National Fire Protection Association 101: Life Safety Code, as incorporated by rule by the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of conviction, holding (1) section 24.2.2.3.3 of the Life Safety Code is not void for vagueness; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the State’s failure to provide Defendant with a policy statement regarding the enforcement of section 24.2.2.3.3 did not constitute a Brady violation; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction. View "State v. Nisbet" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of twenty-eight counts of gross sexual assault, holding that the evidence was sufficient to convict Defendant of each count of gross sexual assault. Defendant was convicted by a jury for acts committed on the victim, his biological daughter. On appeal, Defendant argued that the State did not produce sufficient evidence from which the jury could have found that he committed each of the twenty-eight counts of gross sexual assault for which he was convicted. After noting that the focus of Defendant’s argument was that the State was required to produce evidence regarding the time and place of each individual incident of assault the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) time and place are not essential elements of gross sexual assault; and (2) the State proved each and every element of all twenty-eight counts of gross sexual assault. View "State v. Miller" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether a defendant who has conditions of release set by a judicial officer can be convicted of violation of a condition of release for acts committed while in jail after not securing release on bail. Defendant was convicted of twelve counts of violating a condition of release. On appeal, Defendant argued that the conditions of release order did not apply to him because he had failed to post bail and had not been released from jail to make the conditions of release applicable. Defendant further argued that he was not provided with adequate notice of the conditions of release or of the penalties for violating conditions of release while he remained incarcerated, as required by Me. Rev. Stat. 15 1026(5). The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the trial court, holding (1) the conditions of release order, by law, was effective when entered at the initial appearance hearing; but (2) there was insufficient evidence that Defendant was provided with notice of the conditions of release applicable to him while he was in jail. View "State v. Leblanc-Simpson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of aggravated operating under the influence and aggravated assault, holding that the court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of his alcohol level determined from a sample of Defendant’s blood that was seized without a warrant. Specifically, the Court held (1) probable cause existed for a law enforcement officer to obtain a sample of Defendant’s blood in the context of an operating under the influence investigation, and (2) exigent circumstances justified the warrantless blood draw because Defendant was about to go into surgery where he would not be available for a blood draw as part of the State’s investigation and his body would further metabolize any alcohol that might be in his blood. View "State v. Palmer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the statutory notification process necessary for a conviction for operating after habitual offender revocation is not satisfied where the Secretary of State elects to mail the notification of license revocation to the licensee’s most recent address on file with the Secretary of State pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 29-A, 2557-A(1)(A)(4), and that notification is returned by postal officials as undeliverable. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s conviction for operating after habitual offender revocation where (1) in 2004, the Secretary of State mailed a notice to Defendant’s last known address notifying him that his right to operate a motor vehicle was about to be revoked and that letter was returned by postal authorities to the Secretary of State’s office, and (2) more than eleven years later, Defendant was charged with operating after habitual offender revocation. Therefore, the evidence was insufficient to support the determination that Defendant received or otherwise had actual knowledge of the revocation. View "State v. Cannady" on Justia Law

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The “prisoner mailbox rule” applies when a prisoner is forced to rely on the Department of Corrections to ensure that his Me. R. Civ. P. 80C petition is filed, that prisoner places the petition into the control of the Department, and the Department fails timely to deliver the petition to the clerk of court. Petitioner signed a petition pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 5, 11002 for judicial review of a Department decision finding that he had committed a disciplinary infraction. The State moved to dismiss the petition for failure to state a claim, arguing that because the clerk of court received Petitioner’s petition one day outside of the thirty-day statutory window, the superior court lacked jurisdiction over the matter. Petitioner urged the superior court to apply the prison mailbox rule, whereby the court would consider the petition filed on the date Petitioner deposited it with prison officials for forwarding to the clerk of court rather than the day it was received by the clerk of court. The court granted the State’s motion to dismiss. After setting forth the circumstances above under which the prisoner mailbox rule applies the Supreme Judicial Court adopted the prison mailbox rule for any unrepresented prisoner under the circumstances of this case, vacated the judgment, and remanded to the superior court for reinstatement of the Rule 80C petition. View "Martin v. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the Unified Criminal Docket convicting Defendant of violating a protection order, holding that Defendant’s posts on his Facebook page, including threatening ones, directed at the protected person violated the protection order. Defendant was enjoined by a protection from abuse order from having direct or indirect contact with the protected person. The State later charged Defendant with violating the protection order because Defendant had published several posts on Facebook concerning the protected person, and the content of the posts was “obviously offensive.” The court found Defendant guilty of violating the protection order. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in finding that the entries Defendant posted on Facebook did not constituted “direct or indirect contact” with the protected person; (2) Defendant had sufficient notice that the posts were a form of proscribed conduct; and (3) the trial court correctly determined that a conviction based on Defendant’s violation of the protection order did not place Defendant's First Amendment rights at risk. View "State v. Heffron" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of conviction of manslaughter entered in the trial court, following a jury trial, holding that Defendant’s contentions of error were unavailing. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress statements she made to law enforcement officers during five different interviews; (2) the trial court did not err in instructing the jury on concurrent causation; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s conclusion, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Defendant caused the death of her infant son. View "State v. Hopkins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of aggravated trafficking in schedule W drugs, in violation of Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A, 1105-A(1)(D), holding that section 1105-A(1)(D) does not require the State to prove the weight of “pure” cocaine base. On appeal, Defendant argued that the statute required the State to prove the weight of pure cocaine base in isolation and that the trial court erred in failing to include that requirement in its instructions to the jury. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) section 1105-A(1)(D) does not require the State to prove the weight of “pure” cocaine base; and (2) the court did not err when it instructed the jury that “[c]ocaine base includes any mixture or preparation that contains any quantity of cocaine base, which is the alkaloid base of cocaine.” View "State v. McLaughlin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the trial court did not err in determining that the State did not engage in purposeful discrimination when it used a peremptory challenge that excluded from the jury the sole person of color in the jury pool. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of conviction entered in the Unified Criminal Docket convicting Defendant of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. On appeal, Defendant, who described himself as an African American male, argued that the State engaged in purposeful discrimination when it peremptorily challenged the juror at issue. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that the trial court did not err when it determined that the prosecutor did not engage in purposeful discrimination. View "State v. Hollis" on Justia Law