Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting the Department of Environmental Protection’s request for a permanent injunction prohibiting Dubois Livestock, Inc. and the Randrick Trust (collectively, Appellants) from denying the Department access for solid waste inspections. The court held (1) the superior court did not err in concluding that Me. Rev. Stat. 38, 347-C and 1304(4-A) permit the Department to enter Appellants’ property without consent or an administrative search warrant; and (2) the warrantless searches authorized by these statutes do not violate Appellants’ constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. View "State v. Dubois Livestock, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss a complaint charging him with operating under the influence (OUI). In his motion to dismiss, Defendant argued that because he had already been convicted on a complaint containing the identical charging language, forcing him to defend against the charge violated his rights under the federal and state constitutions to be free from double jeopardy. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, for the purpose of double jeopardy analysis, the two complaints did not arise from the same act or transaction and, therefore, the Double Jeopardy Clause did not require the dismissal of the complaint at issue. View "State v. Martinelli" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, following a two-day jury trial. Contrary to the arguments raised by Defendant on appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion or violate Defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause by allowing testimony about statements of an unavailable witness; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the guilty verdicts on the two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. View "State v. Hall" 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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In this class action, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court declining to grant declaratory and injunctive relief from alleged violations of constitutional rights arising from the York County Probate Court schedule ordered by former York Court Probate Judge Robert Nadeau. While Plaintiff’s appeal was pending, Judge Nadeau filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the case became moot when he lost the election for the probate judgeship. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) this appeal was is moot; and (2) the superior court did not err in determining that Judge Nadeau’s altered court schedule did not result in delays in these routine cases that rose to the level of constitutional deprivations, and Judge Nadeau did not violate the class members’ substantive due process rights as litigants in the York County Probate Court. View "Legrand v. York County Judge of Probate" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the postconviction court denying Defendant’s petition for postconviction review seeking relief from a judgment convicting Defendant of theft by misapplication of property and securities fraud. In his petition for postconviction review Defendant alleged ineffective assistance of trial counsel during plea negotiations and at trial, resulting in prejudice. In its judgment, the court found that Defendant’s arguments did not warrant relief. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the postconviction court was not compelled to find that Defendant established deficient representation or prejudice during either plea negotiations or trial. View "Philbrook v. State" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a registered nurse, filed a complaint alleging that Mercy Hospital discriminated against her in violation of the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA) by terminating her employment because of her alleged disability and refusing to provide her with a reasonable accommodation. The superior court entered summary judgment for Mercy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment on Plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim because there was no genuine issue of material fact that Plaintiff was not a “qualified individual with a disability” as defined by the MHRA. View "Carnicella v. Mercy Hospital" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her child. Contrary to Mother’s contentions, the court held (1) Mother was not deprived of due process because the district court afforded her sufficient notice of the termination hearing before terminating her parental rights and did not place undue weight not he earlier termination of Mother’s rights to another child; and (2) the court’s findings were sufficient as a matter of law, and the court’s judgment was the “result of the application of independent judicial thought to the process of making fact-findings and conclusions.” View "In re Zoey H." on Justia Law

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The district court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence that resulted in a criminal complaint charging Defendant with operating under the influence, concluding that a police officer violated the Fourth Amendment when he ordered Defendant to leave his house in order to complete a traffic stop due to defective license plate lights. The district court concluded (1) the officer did not have probable cause to suspect any criminal activity, and no exigent circumstances existed when he ordered Defendant to exit his house; and (2) the officer’s verbal order to come outside amounted to an unlawful seizure of Defendant. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of suppression, holding (1) the police officer had probable cause to arrest Defendant for the crime of failure to stop his vehicle on request or signal of a uniformed law enforcement officer and pursued him immediately and continuously from the scene of the crime into the curtilage of his home; and (2) therefore, the seizure of Defendant did not amount to unlawful seizure or arrest. View "State v. Blier" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated an order entered by the trial court suppressing evidence seized from Defendant, his vehicle, and his residence after the court concluded that the warrant authorizing the search and seizure of the evidence was not supported by probable cause. On appeal, the State argued that the information presented in the warrant affidavit was sufficient for the warrant judge to find that there was probable cause that evidence of a crime would be found in Defendant’s car, in his home, and on his person. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding that the warrant affidavit provided the necessary substantial basis for the warrant judge’s finding of probable cause. View "State v. Mariner" on Justia Law