Warnken, LLC Attorneys at Law, Attorneys & Lawyers, Pikesville, MD

Black v. State

Black v. State, 426 Md. 328 (2012)

Procedural History:  Defendant was found guilty at trial court of various child sex abuse offenses.  Defendant appealed to the Court of Special Appeals based on a theory that the trial court failed to disclose jury note as required when there is communication between jurors and the court.  The Court of Special Appeals affirmed Defendant’s convictions. Defendant appealed and the Court of Appeals granted certiorari.

Facts:  During Defendant’s trial there were several notes exchanged back and forth between the court and the jury, and they were properly disclosed to the parties.  However, one note was found in the record without a time stamp saying the jury was deadlocked.  The judge says he never received the note, and therefore did not notify the parties as required by statute.

Issue: Did the jury note in question without a timestamp, which the judge claimed he never received saying the jury was deadlocked trigger the requirement to notify the parties?

Holding:  The Court of Appeals affirmed defendant’s convictions, saying that the requirement to notify the parties was not triggered.

Rationale: Defendant did not rebut the presumption of regularity for trial proceedings and did not show that the jury note in question was received by the trial court.

Dissent: Defendant should not have the burden of showing court communication with the jury.  Neither party is position to have control over the court file.  Defendant showed all that he reasonably could.