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 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

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After Henry B. was admitted to Pen Bay Medical Center (PBMC), PBMC staff applied to involuntarily commit Henry pursuant to the “white paper” procedures of Me. Rev. Stat. 34-B, 3863(5-A). After a commitment hearing, the district court ordered that Henry be submit to involuntary hospitalization for up to 120 days. The superior court affirmed the district court’s judgment of involuntary commitment. Henry appealed, arguing that he was not provided with effective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) individuals subject to involuntary commitment proceedings in Maine have the right to effective representation of counsel, and the Strickland standard applies for courts reviewing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel in involuntary commitment proceedings; and (2) Henry was not deprived of the effective assistance of counsel in this case. View "In re Henry B." on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of fourteen criminal offenses, including four counts of aggravated attempted murder. The trial court imposed multiple life sentences in addition to multiple lesser sentences, all to be served concurrently. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the convictions and sentences. Defendant filed a petition for post-conviction review, asserting several grounds for relief, including ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The court denied the petition, concluding that no error by appellate counsel was sufficiently prejudicial to justify any relief. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief under Strickland v. Washington. View "Fortune v. State" on Justia Law