Articles Posted in Criminal 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

Posted in: Criminal 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

Posted in: Criminal 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

Posted in: Criminal 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

Posted in: Criminal 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

Posted in: Criminal 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

Posted in: Criminal 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 of conviction entered in the trial court after a jury found Defendant guilty of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution. The court held (1) the trial court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of incriminating statements he made during a police interview and photographs of injuries to his body; and (2) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial based on the State’s presentation of allegedly perjured testimony during Defendant’s trial. View "State v. McNaughton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of conviction entered in the trial court after a jury found Defendant guilty of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution. The court held (1) the trial court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of incriminating statements he made during a police interview and photographs of injuries to his body; and (2) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial based on the State’s presentation of allegedly perjured testimony during Defendant’s trial. View "State v. McNaughton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court after a jury found Defendant guilty of two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated driving to endanger. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the victims’ injuries when she was willing to stipulate that they had sustained serious bodily injuries and in denying her motion for a new trial based on alleged prosecutorial misconduct. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the trial court did not err in its treatment of the evidence of the victims’ injuries; and (2) a comment by the prosecutor during closing arguments did not result in obvious error, and therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial. View "State v. Michaud" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law