Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Court

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Since 1983, Michael Dee repeatedly and unsuccessfully challenged in state and federal courts the constitutionality of Maine marijuana prohibitions. In 2007, the superior court enjoined Dee from filing further lawsuits in Maine courts challenging the constitutionality of the State’s marijuana laws. Despite this injunction, Dee did not request the court’s permission to file this complaint for a judgment declaring that provisions in several Maine marijuana statutes were unconstitutional until almost one month after his complaint was docketed. The superior court dismissed Dee’s complaint with prejudice, finding that several Maine courts had already considered and rejected Dee’s arguments and that the suit was frivolous. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that in light of the frivolous and duplicative nature of the suit and Dee’s failure to seek permission before commencing this action, the superior court did not abuse its discretion in granting the State’s motion to dismiss Dee’s petition with prejudice. View "Dee v. State" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of manslaughter. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because he was subjected to custodial interrogation and did not receive Miranda warnings and because he was in a state of shock and emotional distress that rendered his statements involuntary. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in concluding that Defendant’s statements were not made in the course of custodial interrogation for purposes of Miranda; and (2) the trial court did not err in determining that Defendant’s statements were made voluntarily. View "State v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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Defendant’s probation officer asked Defendant to come to the probation office. When Defendant complied, he met two state troopers who sat down with him and asked him about a theft at the victim’s apartment. After the interview, Defendant made incriminating statements. Defendant was charged with burglary and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. Defendant moved to suppress the statements he made to law enforcement. The trial court determined that Defendant spoke voluntarily and that he was not in custody, and therefore, Miranda warnings were not required. Defendant was subsequently convicted of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in determining that Miranda warnings were unnecessary because Defendant was not in custody; (2) the trial court did not err in concluding that the confession was voluntary; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. View "State v. Kittredge" on Justia Law

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After a jury-waived trial, Defendant was convicted of failing to provide his correct, name, address, and date of birth; possession or distribution of dangerous knives; and refusing to submit to arrest or detention. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s conviction of failing to give his correct name, address, and date of birth but otherwise affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not violate Defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights at a suppression hearing by admitting testimony of police officers because the testimony was not hearsay; and (2) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction of failing to give his correct name, address, and date of birth. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Defendant was tried on a charge of domestic violence assault. During the trial proceedings, the trial court granted Defendant’s motion for a mistrial after finding manifest necessity to declare a mistrial. Concluding that the mistrial did not involve prosecutorial misconduct, the trial court ruled that the State was entitled to retry its case. Defendant appealed, arguing that double jeopardy barred retrial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Defendant consented to a mistrial, and because intentional prosecutorial misconduct did not bar a retrial, there was no barrier to retrial under the double jeopardy clause. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of assault on an officer and criminal mischief. Appellant appealed, arguing that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by electing not to make an opening statement, not cross-examining the State’s witnesses, not presenting any evidence for the defense, and presenting only a brief closing argument. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the issues Appellant raised regarding ineffective assistance of counsel were not properly raised on direct appeal and instead must be addressed in a fact-finding proceeding to determine if trial counsel’s action resulted from incompetence, appropriate strategic choices, or other considerations. View "State v. Troy" on Justia Law

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In 2007, Plaintiff, frustrated with then-proposed budget cuts to mental health services, sent the Governor a series of emails that were interpreted as threatening. Plaintiff was delivered to MaineGeneral Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation, where she was eventually subjected to a search and held against her will for the night in a locked room. Plaintiff later filed an action against MaineGeneral and Scott Kemmerer, an emergency room physician, alleging that Defendants deprived her of liberty without due process and subjected her to an unreasonable search in violation of the Maine Civil Rights Act (MCRA). Defendants filed for entry of summary judgment as to the MCRA claims. The court (1) granted the motion as to MaineGeneral, determining that MaineGeneral could not be held vicariously liable for the acts of its employees under the MCRA; and (2) denied the motion as to Kemmerer. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the denial of summary judgment as to Kemmerer on issues of immunity, holding that Kemmerer was not entitled to absolute immunity or common law qualified immunity from Plaintiff’s MCRA claims; and (2) did not reach Kemmerer’s remaining arguments in this interlocutory appeal. View "Clifford v. MaineGeneral Med. Ctr." on Justia Law

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In 2011, the State charged Defendant of aggravated assault and attempted murder. The State alleged that while Defendant and his wife, Lisa, were hiking on Megunticook Mountain, Defendant struck Lisa in the head, dragged her to the edge of a cliff, and threw her over the edge. Shortly thereafter, Defendant was seriously injured after himself falling from a cliff. Defendant was treated at Eastern Maine Medical Center for several days. In 2012, the State obtained a search warrant to obtain Defendant’s personal medical records from the hospital. Defendant filed a motion to suppress his medical records or, in the alternative, to dismiss the charges against him, contending that the State failed to use the proper procedure in obtaining his records, the search warrant was overbroad and not supported by probable cause, and the use of the search warrant during his criminal proceeding violated his due process rights. The trial court declined to suppress Defendant’s medical records. The Supreme Court dismissed Defendant’s appeal as interlocutory, holding that the trial court’s decision not to suppress the evidence did not give rise to a right to an interlocutory appeal. View "State v. Black" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of gross sexual assault and suspended to twenty years imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions, that the prosecutor engaged in impermissible misconduct, and the trial court erred in determining his sentence. The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of conviction, holding (1) the prosecutor violated the state and federal Constitutions by eliciting testimony that Defendant did not return phone calls from police and by arguing to the jury that Defendant’s pre-arrest silence demonstrated consciousness of guilt, and the error seriously affected the fairness and integrity of the judicial proceedings; and (2) the prosecutor committed misconduct by vouching for witness credibility even after the court determined that the statements were impermissible, and the error was not harmless. View "State v. Lovejoy" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of one count of gross sexual assault. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court committed obvious error by permitting the State to introduce evidence of his pre-arrest refusal to voluntarily submit to a warrantless collection of a DNA sample and to argue to the jury that it could infer consciousness of guilt from the refusal. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that the trial court committed obvious error in admitting evidence of Defendant’s refusal to submit to the warrantless search for the purpose of proving consciousness of guilt. Remanded. View "State v. Glover" on Justia Law