Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of domestic violence assault after a jury trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion by not presenting his proposed voir dire questions to the jury pool. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in conducting voir dire and that the court’s rejection of Defendant’s proposed questionnaire did not deny Defendant the right to a fair and impartial jury where the questionnaire contained inappropriate questions and incorrect statements of law. View "State v. Roby" on Justia Law

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A digital photograph transmitted over the internet is legally insufficient to constitute an “exposure” pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A, 854(1)(B), which prohibits indecent conduct. Furthermore, Me. R. Evid. 1002, requiring the introduction of original writings, recordings or photographs, when available, did not require the exclusion of the victims’ testimony about digital messages that they received from the defendant in this case. The victims in this case were five teenage girls who each received from Defendant explicit digital images. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated Defendant’s convictions for indecent conduct and remanded for an entry of a judgment of acquittal as to those counts, holding that section 854(1)(B) did not apply to Defendant’s conduct. As to Defendant’s argument that the court erred in allowing the victims to testify from memory about the digital messages, under the best evidence rule, the State was required to introduce the original messages, if available, or make a showing that the messages could not be obtained before offering secondary evidence in the form of witness testimony. The court’s admission of one of the victim’s messages and another victim’s testimony complied with Me. R. Evid. 1002 and 1004. But as to two other victims, the testimony and message were admitted in contravention of the best evidence rule. View "State v. Legassie" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction, entered after a jury trial, of operating under the influence. Defendant was stopped by a Winslow police officer after he drove his car over a sidewalk median in Waterville. Defendant argued that the motion court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the Winslow officer’s extraterritorial stop of his vehicle because the officer exceeded the authority granted to him by Me. Rev. Stat. 30-A, 2671 and Winslow, Me., Code 2-44. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances, the motion court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress because the Winslow officer’s action of pursuing Defendant’s vehicle was reasonable, as was his initial contact with Defendant, and the officer did not intentionally make an excursion into Waterville to ferret out crime. View "State v. Turner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of operating under the influence. On appeal, Defendant argued that the court abused its discretion by excluding Defendant’s proposed expert testimony as to her peak blood alcohol concentration at the time she was driving. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that the court did not err in excluding the expert testimony because Defendant’s offer of proof did not include a proffer of evidence that would demonstrate how her theoretical blood alcohol content would have affected her mental or physical faculties and because Me. Rev. Stat. 29-A, 2432(1) is inapplicable. View "State v. Souther" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the adjudications entered by the trial court after a consolidated nonjury trial that found that Defendant committed the traffic infraction of “failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle” and committed the civil violation of “motor vehicle violation resulting in death.” The court held (1) the court did not commit an error of law when it determined that the State was not required to prove the activity that Defendant was engaged in that distracted him; and (2) the evidence was sufficient for the court to find by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant was engaged in the operation of a motor vehicle while distracted. View "State v. Palmer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, rendered after a nonjury trial, that adjudicated Defendant of having committed two traffic infractions. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred by denying a motion in which he asserted a purported right to be represented in the matter by a person not licensed to practice law in Maine. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that the judgment must be affirmed where Defendant did not identify any federal or State constitutional provision, statute, or common law authority contravened by the court when it denied his request to be represented by a person not authorized to practice law in the state of Maine. View "State v. Rupert" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of operating under the influence. The court held (1) the trial court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence from a traffic stop because the officer had a reasonable articulable suspicion that Defendant was impaired, thus justifying the administration of field sobriety tests; (2) the trial court did not err in allowing testimony regarding Defendant’s performance on a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test because the proper foundation for its admission was established; (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction; and (4) the trial court did not err when it determined that prospective jurors were impartial. View "State v. Simons" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the trial court denying Appellant’s petition for postconviction relief on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Appellant was found guilty of gross sexual assault, assault, and tampering with a victim. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. Appellant then filed a petition for postconviction review, arguing in part that he was deprived of the effective assistance of trial counsel because trial counsel opened the door to damaging evidence or failed to object to certain testimony elicited on cross-examination. The trial court denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter, holding that, contrary to the trial court’s conclusion, Appellant did not waive his challenge to counsel’s effectiveness in responding to the testimony of a specific witness at trial. View "Salley v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment entered in the trial court convicting Defendant of several charges, including crimes of violence. After a jury-waived trial, Defendant was convicted of multiple charges arising from an incident where Defendant engaged in conduct while affected by a distorted view of reality. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in interpreting Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A, 38 as applied to the evidence of Defendant’s mental condition and that the evidence of his mental abnormality foreclosed any determination that he acted with the required culpable state of mind. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the court’s application of section 38 was not in error, and (2) the evidence presented at trial supported the court’s factual findings beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Proia" on Justia Law

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Defendant was twice convicted of cruelty to animals and ordered never to possess animals again. However, when Defendant was released from the prison sentence imposed after her second conviction, Defendant acquired a variety of animals. A jury rendered a verdict finding Defendant in contempt of court, and the trial court entered a judgment on the contempt verdict. Defendant was sentenced to 364 days in jail. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the contempt finding; and (2) Defendant’s challenges to the contempt finding were without merit. View "State v. Murphy" on Justia Law