Supreme Court Oral Argument Schedule & Summaries


Maine Supreme Judicial Court
Sitting as the Law Court

Caution: This schedule is subject to change. The case synopses are prepared for the convenience of the public and are not to be construed as statements of the court.

Audio stream of oral arguments available.

As a service to the public, the Supreme Judicial Court provides live streaming of its oral arguments, and streaming of recordings of oral arguments for approximately two weeks after the week of arguments. To listen, go to our streaming page.

 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Capital Judicial Center, Augusta
 
  9:00 a.m.   And-17-464   State of Maine v. Malik B. Hollis
     

Attorneys: Katherine E. Bozeman; James P. Hoaniec

Malik Hollis was convicted of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon (Class C) and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon (Class C). Hollis appeals, arguing that the trial court clearly erred when it permitted the prosecution to strike the only person of color from the juror pool.

 
  9:50 a.m.   Pen-17-399   State of Maine v. Rodney O. Gaskell
     

Attorneys: Mark A. Rucci; Erik T. Croker

Rodney Gaskell was convicted of assault (Class D). Gaskell appeals, arguing that the trial court committed plain error in permitting the prosecutor to refer in closing arguments to the victim’s statements to her husband and the police after those statements had been excluded from evidence.

 
  10:40 a.m.   Fra-17-502   John Fahnley v. State of Maine
     

Attorneys: Luke S. Rioux; Valerie A. Randall; Andrew S. Robinson; Joshua W. Robbins

The Superior Court granted John Fahnley’s petition for post-conviction review, vacating his conviction for sexual abuse of a minor after finding that Fahnley’s trial counsel was ineffective because counsel did not adequately investigate certain matters and did not call witnesses or present certain other evidence in Fahnley’s defense. The State of Maine appeals, arguing that the court clearly erred in its determination of facts because it did not adequately consider evidence of counsel’s trail strategy and reasonable decisions about presenting the evidence.

 
  11:30 a.m.   And-17-444   State of Maine v. Jacob R. Labbe
     

Attorneys: Andrew S. Robinson; Michael B. Dumas; Jesse James Ian Archer

Jacob Labbe was convicted of five counts of violation of conditions of release (Class C) for phone calls he made from jail to the alleged victim of his domestic violence. Labbe appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by (1) admitting evidence of his domestic violence case that was still pending and (2) failing to exclude the recordings of the phone calls as hearsay.

 
  1:30 p.m.   Wal-18-149   State of Maine v. Sharon Carrillo
     

Attorneys: Leanne Robbin; Christopher K. MacLean; Laura P. Shaw;

Sharon Carillo stands charged with murder. The trial court denied Carrillo’s motion to disqualify the Attorney General’s Office from prosecuting her after the trial court found that the Attorney General’s Office improperly obtained information from a former school and a former employer of Carillo. Carillo appeals, arguing that (1) her interlocutory appeal should be heard under the “death knell” exception to the final judgment rule because the Attorney General’s office had improper access to confidential information, and (2) the court erred in denying her motion because the Attorney General’s Office committed prosecutorial misconduct and because it is necessary to “neutralize the taint” caused by the Office’s access to the information.

 
  2:20 p.m.   Wal-17-516   State of Maine v. Miranda G. Hopkins
     

Attorneys: Donald W. Macomber; Laura P. Shaw

Miranda Hopkins was convicted of manslaughter of her infant son. Hopkins appeals, arguing that (1) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on “concurrent causation,” (2) the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that she, rather than one of her two sons, ages six and eight, caused the fatal injuries to the victim, and (3) the court erred by denying her motion to suppress statements that she made to law enforcement officers on five occasions.

 
  3:10 p.m.   Cum-17-430   Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Gary M. Prolman
     

Attorneys: Aria Eee; J. Scott Davis; James M. Bowie

A single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court suspended attorney Gary M. Prolman from the Maine bar for six months because he took advantage of a former client sexually. The Board of Overseers of the Bar appeals, arguing that the single justice failed to apply the correct factors in determining the sanction, resulting in an inadequate sanction.

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Capital Judicial Center, Augusta
 
  9:00 a.m.   Som-17-489   State of Maine v. J.R.
     

Attorneys: Carie James; Tina Heather Nadeau; Emma E. Bond; Zachary L. Heiden; Meagan S. Sway

J.R. admitted having committed the juvenile crimes of criminal mischief and theft in three separate incidents when he was fifteen years old. The Juvenile Court committed J.R. to a juvenile detention facility for an indefinite term until J.R. turns 18. J.R. appeals, arguing that (1) the trial court abused its discretion by committing J.R. to a detention facility given that J.R. had never been adjudicated as having committed a previous juvenile crime, these offenses were “low-level property crimes,” J.R. accepted responsibility for the offenses, and there was no jeopardy to public safety, and (2) committing him to a detention facility for an indefinite term is disproportionate, cruel, and unusual punishment.

 
  9:50 a.m.   Sag-17-508   State of Maine v. Richard A. Heffron III
     

Attorneys: Alvah J. Chalifour Jr.; James M. Mason

Richard A. Heffron III was convicted of violating a protection from abuse order for “contacting” the victim by posting comments referencing her on his Facebook page. Heffron appeals, arguing that (1) a Facebook posting about, but not to, a person is not “contact” as that term is used in the protection from abuse statutes or orders; and (2) there was insufficient evidence to show that Heffron knew or should have known that by posting on Facebook he was engaging in prohibited conduct.

 
  10:40 a.m.   Ken-17-453   Horace Salley v. Department of Corrections
     

Attorneys: Micheal Walker; E. James Burke; Jason J. Theobald

Horace Salley, a prisoner, sought judicial review of administrative actions of the Department of Corrections, but the Department lost or misplaced his outgoing mail to the court. The Superior Court dismissed his petition as untimely. Salley appeals, arguing that this Court should adopt the “Prisoner Mailbox Rule,” making a prisoner’s “filing” effective upon the prisoner’s depositing with prison authorities mail addressed to the court.

 
  11:30 a.m.   Yor-17-491   Helen R. Rose et al. v. William C. Parsons et al.
     

Attorneys: Alan E. Shepard; Richard A. Hull III; Kelly W. McDonald; Peter S. Plumb

The Superior Court entered a judgment finding that Helen Rose and the other plaintiffs had a right to use certain “roads” as marked on a 1915 subdivision plan but did not have the right to otherwise use the beach at the end of the roads. Rose and the other plaintiffs appeal, arguing that the court erred in limiting the scope of their easements because the plan and the deeds conveying the dominant estates shortly after the plan was recorded indicate an intent to give the owners of the dominant estates an easement to use the beaches at the ends of the roads.

The owners of servient estates cross-appeal, arguing that the court erred in determining that former dominant-estate owners did not abandon the easement over one of the roads.

 
  1:30 p.m.   Fra-17-460   State of Maine v. Wesley Villacci
     

Attorneys: Claire G. Andrews; Rory A. McNamara

Wesley Villacci was convicted of domestic violence assault (Class C) and violation of conditions of release (Class E). Villacci appeals, arguing that the trial court’s jury instructions regarding self defense and other justifications were obvious error.

 
  2:20 p.m.   Oxf-17-468   State of Maine v. James A. Reynolds
     

Attorneys: Alexandra W. Winter; Rory A. McNamara

James Reynolds was convicted of four counts of gross sexual assault (Class A), five counts of unlawful sexual contact (Class C), and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor (Class C). Reynolds appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support a finding of each discrete act as charged and that the acts occurred within the applicable statute of limitations. Reynolds further argues that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of similar uncharged conduct.

 
  3:10 p.m.   Cum-17-511   James D. Klein et al. v. Mark C. Klein et al.
     

Attorneys: David S. Sherman Jr.; Amy K. Olfene; Thomas F. Hallett; Daniel D. Feldman

The Superior Court confirmed an arbitration award and two amended awards in a dispute between the parties. Mark C. Klein appeals, arguing that the court erred in confirming the two amended awards because (1) the applications of other parties to confirm the amended awards were untimely under the Maine Uniform Arbitration Act, (2) res judicata principles prohibit any amendment to a confirmed arbitration award; (3) the arbitrator had no authority to modify the award after it was confirmed; and (4) the arbitrator should have recused himself after Mark Klein’s attorney accused the arbitrator of violating an ethical rule and the arbitrator threatened to sue the attorney for libel. Mark Klein also challenges the court’s order that he pay the other parties’ attorney fees.

 

Thursday, June 14, 2018
Capital Judicial Center, Augusta
 
  9:00 a.m.   Ken-17-478   Town of Mount Vernon v. James Landherr et al.
     

Attorneys: David M. Sanders; Robert E. Sandy Jr.

The Superior Court granted summary judgment for the Town of Mount Vernon in its action against James Landherr and Valerie Center to enforce a zoning ordinance. Landherr and Center appeal, arguing that (1) summary judgment is an inappropriate procedure for a Rule 80K action to enforce a zoning ordinance; (2) there were disputes of material facts that prevented summary judgment; (3) the Town’s action is barred by the doctrine of equitable estoppel; and (4) the Landherrs’ violation was de minimis.

 
  9:50 a.m.   Pen-17-374   Donald F. MacLeod v. Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems
     

Attorneys: Arthur J. Greif; Frank T. McGuire

The Superior Court entered judgment for Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS) on Donald MacLeod’s claim for age discrimination and violation of the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. MacLeod appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by (1) excluding evidence of adverse actions taken by EMHS before it terminated MacLeod’s employment and evidence of MacLeod’s and his wife’s health conditions; (2) refusing to instruct the jury that a claim of employment discrimination made to an employer can be “protected activity”; (4) admitting certain EMHS records created by supervisors; and (4) declining to waive costs.

 
  10:40 a.m.   Ken-17-435   State of Maine v. Sarah B. Conway
     

Attorneys: Paul Cavanaugh II; Rory A. McNamara

Sarah Conway was convicted of gross sexual assault (Class A) and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child (Class D) because of her participation with her husband in the sexual abuse of her son. Conway appeals, arguing that the court erred by instructing the jury that the defense of duress was not available to her if she recklessly placed herself in danger of the duress but not specifying that the State was required to prove the recklessness beyond a reasonable doubt.

 
  11:30 a.m.   Ken-17-64   State of Maine v. Ralph Michaud
     

Attorneys: Frayla Tarpinian; Rory A. McNamara

The trial court found that Ralph Michaud violated a condition of his probation by failing to “maintain effective enrollment with court ordered sex offender treatment” and ordered that he serve 30 months of the previously suspended portion of his sentence for gross sexual assault. Michaud appeals, arguing that (1) the court impermissibly placed the burden on him to prove that any violation of the terms of his probation was excusable; (2) the conditions of his probation did not require him to “maintain effective enrollment” in sex offender treatment, but to “complete it,” which he was not given an opportunity to do; (3) he was “suspended” from treatment only after he was arrested by his probation officer on other allegations and the probation officer requested that the therapist suspend him; and (4) the court violated his right to due process by failing to provide its factual findings in support of its conclusion that Michaud’s violation of the terms of his probation was “inexcusable.”

 
  1:30 p.m.   Ken-17-513   Sharmilla Das-Wattley v. Board of Podiatric Medicine
     

Attorneys: Maureen M. Sturtevant; Philip M. Coffin III; Samantha Y. Morgan

The Superior Court affirmed a decision of the Board of Podiatric Medicine sanctioning Sarmila Das-Wattley after finding that Das-Wattley committed gross negligence and violated an applicable standard of care as to a particular patient. Das Wattley appeals, arguing that the Board’s action is invalid because (1) the Board violated Das-Wattley’s due process rights; (2) the Board’s findings were not supported by competent evidence; and (3) the Board’s stated reasons for the sanction were unrelated to the patient at issue.

 
  2:20 p.m.   Sag-17-486   K.S. v. Timothy Tierney
     

Attorneys: Caroline Y. Jova; Misha C. Pride

The District Court extended K.S.’s protection from abuse order against Timothy Tierney. Tierney appeals, arguing that the District Court (1) erred in granting an extension of the protection from abuse order based solely on evidence of his behavior before the date of the original protection from abuse order, and (2) violated his due process rights because the motion for an extension of the order recited only facts after the date of the original protection order, failing to provide adequate notice that he would be required to defend against evidence regarding his behavior before that date.