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.

 

May 2017 Session

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Capital Judical Center, Augusta
 
  9:00 a.m.   Ken-16-500   Donald Beauchene v. State of Maine
     

Attorneys: Rory A. McNamara, Laura A. Yusta

In 1970, a jury found Donald Beauchene not guilty of murder by reason of mental disease or defect.  In 2016, Beauchene filed a petition for discharge or a modified release treatment program.  The Superior Court denied the petition.  Beauchene appeals, arguing that (1) the evidence compels a finding that he no longer suffers from the same mental disease or defect found by the jury in 1970, (2) 15 M.R.S. §104-A is unconstitutionally vague, and (3) his continued hospitalization violates his due process rights.  

 
  9:50 a.m.   Ken-16-455   State of Maine v. Andrew L. Seamon
     

Attorneys: Kristin Murray-James, Caitlin Ross Wahrer

Andrew Seamon was convicted of unlawful sexual contact (class B) and sentenced to nine years with all but six years suspended and twelve years of probation.  

Seamon appeals from the conviction and the sentence, arguing that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress certain statements that he made to a detective because those statements were involuntary, (2) the trial court erred in sentencing Seamon, and (3) the trial court erred by mandating that Seamon register as a Tier III sex offender pursuant to the 2013 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act because that Act applies only to convictions for conduct that occurred after January 1, 2013.  

 
  1:30 p.m.   Cum-16-305   Timothy A. Davison et al. v. Allstate Insurance Company et al.
     

Attorneys: Jeffrey T. Edwards, Timothy D. Connolly, Martica S. Douglas, James D. Poliquin, Jonathan W. Brogan, John S. Whitman

Timothy Alan Davison and Theresa Allocca brought an action seeking uninsured motorist coverage under policies issued by Allstate Insurance Co., York Insurance Co., and Horace Mann Teachers Insurance Co. after their son Timothy Austin Davison was shot and killed by a then-unknown and uninsured hit-and-run driver.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurance companies.

Davison and Allocca appeal, arguing that the trial court erred by failing to rule that they are entitled to recover under the uninsured motorist coverage of the insurance policies.

 
  2:20 p.m.   Ken-16-452   Peter M. Beckerman v. Ricky Conant et al.
     

Attorneys: Alton C. Stevens, Catherine R. Connors, Jared S. des Rosiers

Peter Beckerman sought a declaratory judgment that he possessed an easement across Ricky and Monica Conant’s property to reach his shore lot.  The trial court found that Beckerman possessed an easement over the Conants’ property.

The Conants appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in finding the existence and location of Beckerman’s easement over the Conant’s property.  

 
  3:10 p.m.   BCD-16-429   Ronald A. Boutet et al. v. Town of Old Orchard Beach et al.
     

Attorneys: Edward S. MacColl, Matthew S. Warner, Philip R. Saucier

The Town of Old Orchard Beach approved an amendment to a subdivision plan that allowed Dominator Golf, LLC, to build additional residential units on land that it had purchased from one or more of the plaintiffs.  The land was a portion of “Dunegrass,” a larger subdivision that the plaintiffs had earlier established and partially constructed.

The plaintiffs appealed the approval to the Superior Court, which affirmed the Town’s decision.  The plaintiffs appeal, arguing that the Town (1) erred in permitting Dominator Golf to build residential units on its land, over the plaintiffs’ objection; (2) erred in calculating the total number of residential units approved but unconstructed; and (3) “committed many additional, important errors.”

 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Capital Judicial Center, Augusta
 
  9:00 a.m.   Sag-16-184   State of Maine v. Thomas E. Palmer
     

Attorneys: Jonathan R. Liberman, Jeffrey C. Toothaker

Thomas E. Palmer was found to have committed the traffic infraction of causing the death of a person while committing a traffic infraction, 29-A M.R.S. § 2413-A(1).  The underlying traffic infraction was failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle by operating the vehicle while distracted, 29-A M.R.S. § 2118(2)(A). 

Palmer appeals, arguing that the state was required to, but did not, prove what distracting activity Palmer was engaged in at the time he caused the death of the other person.

 
  9:50 a.m.   Som-16-416   State of Maine v. Claudia G. Viles
     

Attorneys: Leanne Robbin, Walter F. McKee

Claudia Viles was convicted of theft (Class B); eleven counts of failure to pay a tax or file a return (Class D); and tampering with public records or information (Class D).  The victim of the crimes was the Town of Anson.  Viles was the Town treasurer.

Viles appeals, claiming that (1) there was insufficient evidence to convict Viles of theft because there was no evidence that she was the one who took the Town’s funds or that she had exclusive control over the funds when they were taken; and (2) there was insufficient evidence to convict Viles of tampering with public records because the only evidence admitted was that Viles had removed a large number of motor vehicle records from the Town office and later some of those records were missing.

 
  10:40 a.m.   Ken-16-449   Amy B. Mills v. Roger M. Fleming
     

Attorneys: Kristin A. Gustafson, Theodore H. Irwin, Jr.

The District Court entered a judgment of divorce between the parties, awarding them shared parental rights and responsibilities.  Amy Mills appeals, challenging a provision of the divorce judgment that requires each parent to make a good faith effort to transport the parties’ two minor children to extracurricular activities or else give the other parent a right of first refusal to transport the children.  Mills argues that the provision requires her to allow the children to attend certain activities when the children are residing with her even if she objects to their participation, violating her fundamental right to parent and constituting an abuse of the court’s discretion.

 
  11:30 a.m.   Cum-16-520   Matthew Pollack v. Regional School Unit 75
     

Attorneys: Sigmund D. Schutz, Jonathan G. Mermin, Daniel A. Nuzzi, Nathaniel A. Bessey

In 2014, Matthew E. Pollack requested, pursuant to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA), 1 M.R.S. §§ 400-413 (2013), that Regional School Unit 75 (the District) allow him to inspect and copy three categories of documents relating to middle school employees in the District.   The District declined to provide the requested materials, citing various statutory confidentiality provisions.
Pollack then initiated the instant litigation by filing a complaint against the District in the Superior Court alleging a violation of FOAA and seeking an order allowing him to inspect and copy the subject documents.  The court conducted a trial, after which it examined the responsive documents in camera.  The court concluded that the majority of the documents requested are confidential pursuant to 1 M.R.S. § 402(3)(A) and 20-A M.R.S. § 6101(2)(B)(2), (5) (2016), and therefore may not be disclosed pursuant to a FOAA request, but the court ordered the District to provide Pollack access, in a redacted format, to certain discrete portions of the responsive documents.  Pollack appeals, arguing that the documents at issue do not qualify for statutory confidentiality, and that to the extent they do, the District must redact those portions that are confidential instead of denying him access to the documents in their entirety.

 
  1:30 p.m.   Pen-16-467   Linda J. Bamford v. Laurel M. Bamford
     

Attorneys: Zachary Brandmeir, Kirk D. Bloomer, Mark A. Rucci

As part of its judgment of divorce between the parties, the District Court determined that a business that belonged to Laurel Bamford before the marriage, including the real estate upon which it operated, was “transmuted” into marital property during the marriage.  Laurel appeals, arguing that, whether or not the operating business was “transmuted” into marital property, the real estate upon which the business operated was a separate asset that was not transmuted into marital property.

 
  2:20 p.m.   Yor-16-490   State of Maine v. Thomas A. Proia
     

Attorneys: Kathryn L. Slattery, Shira S. Burns, Valerie A. Randall, Patrick H. Gordon

Thomas Proia was convicted of domestic violence reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon (Class C); aggravated assault (Class B); two counts of attempted gross sexual assault (Class B and Class C); domestic violence assault (Class D); endangering the welfare of a child (Class D); and criminal mischief (Class D).   Proia appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in concluding that (1) Proia had formed the requisite state of mind for the crime, and (2) a rock that Proia threw at, and through, a neighbor’s window was a “dangerous weapon” for purposes of the crime of aggravated assault.

 
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Capital Judicial Center, Augusta
 
  9:00 a.m.   Ken-16-118   State of Maine v. Wade R. Hoover
     

Attorneys: Paul Cavanaugh II, Scott F. Hess

Wade Hoover pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, four counts of gross sexual assault (Class A).  The trial imposed a sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment on one count, and a sentence of 35 years’ imprisonment on the other three counts, to be served consecutively to the 25-year sentence.  Hoover appealed from his conviction and his sentence, and the Sentence Review Panel granted him leave to appeal from his sentence.  On appeal, Hoover argues that (1) the trial court should be required to make findings of specific aggravating factors before imposing a de facto life sentence and (2) his sentence was disproportionate to the crimes he committed.

 
  9:50 a.m.   Ken-16-489   Estate of Jack R. Pirozzolo et al. v. Department of Marine Resources et al.
     

Attorneys: Sarah A. McDaniel, Lauren E. Parker

The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) granted to Joseph Porada a three-year lease of submerged lands for Porada to operate an experimental aquaculture business.  Several nearby land owners petitioned the Superior Court for judicial review of the lease and joined with their petition independent claims challenging the validity of the statutes that govern the lease process.  The Superior Court affirmed the lease and granted summary judgment to DMR on the independent claims, except that it remanded the matter to DMR to modify the lease’s land area.

The nearby land owners appeal, arguing that (1) the Superior Court erred in dismissing their independent claims; (2) DMR failed to enact the regulations required by the governing statutes and therefore lacked authority to grant the lease; (3) the governing statutes are unconstitutional because they violate the public trust doctrine; (4) DMR’s procedure was “so affected by institutional bias and unlawful procedures that it should be reversed”; and (5) there was insufficient evidence to support DMR’s grant of the lease.

 
  10:40 a.m.   Wal-16-506   Cindy Wood v. David Onyons
     

Attorneys: Peggy L. McGehee, Lauren B. Weliver, Christopher K. MacLean, Laura Shaw McDonald

Cindy Wood and David Onyons purchased real estate together and held it as joint tenants.  Wood filed a complaint for equitable partition of the property.  The court entered a judgment ordering the sale of the property and dividing the proceeds.

Onyons appeals, arguing that the District Court erred in (1) considering the parties’ relative financial contributions to the purchase of the property in dividing the proceeds; and (2) ordering that the proceeds be used to satisfy a mortgage note that only Wood had signed before dividing the proceeds equally between the parties.

 
  11:30 a.m.   Han-16-533   Kerry A. Johnson et al. v. Barbara C. Crane
     

Attorneys: Barry K. Mills, William B. Devoe, Kady S. Huff

Barbara Crane’s sisters sued her for tortious interference with an expected inheritance and breach of contract, alleging that their mother left real property and a business to Crane upon Crane’s promise to divide the property and business equally among all the sisters, which, they claim, was a fraudulent promise.   The Superior Court dismissed the sisters’ complaint.

The sisters appeal, arguing that the Superior Court erred in determining that (1) a promise to take future action cannot support a claim of fraud and (2) the sisters’ complaint failed to plead fraud with sufficient particularity.

 
  1:30 p.m.   Aro-16-186   Horace W. Salley III v. State of Maine
     

Attorneys: David Paris, Todd R. Collins

In 2008, Horace Salley was convicted of gross sexual assault (Class A), assault (Class D), and tampering with a victim (Class B) against his wife.  He appealed to the Law Court, which affirmed his conviction.

In 2010, Salley filed a petition for post-conviction review, arguing that his trial counsel had been ineffective for not objecting to certain hearsay admitted at the trial and that his appellate counsel had been ineffective for not arguing that the admission of the hearsay was error.  The trial court denied his petition.

Salley appeals, arguing that (1) the trial court erred in concluding that his appellate counsel’s failure to raise the hearsay issue on appeal from the conviction precluded his argument in the post-conviction proceedings that his trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting to the testimony; and (2) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the admission of the hearsay.

 
  2:20 p.m.   Aro-16-516   State of Maine v. Charles B. Libby
     

Attorneys: Todd R. Collins, Carrie L. Linthicum, Allan F. Harding

Charles Libby was convicted of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class B).  He appeals, arguing that (1) there was insufficient evidence to establish that the pills that he allegedly provided to an informant were, in fact, oxycodone; and (2) the trial court erred in admitting the pills into evidence because there was a break in the chain of custody of the pills between the time they were seized and the time of trial.

 
Friday, May 12, 2017
Capital Judical Center, Augusta
 
  9:00 a.m.   Ken-16-503   State of Maine v. Lyanne Lemeunier-Fitzgerald
     

Attorneys: Kate E. Marshall, Darrick X. Banda, Jamesa J. Drake, Zachary L. Heiden, Donald W. Macomber, Tyler J. Smith

Lyanne Leneunier-Fitzgerald pleaded conditionally guilty to, and was convicted of, OUI (Class C) and operating beyond a license condition or restriction.  Lemeunier-Fitzgerald appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress the results of a blood-alcohol test because her consent to the test was involuntary given the police officer’s threat that a refusal to submit to the test would result in the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence if she was convicted of OUI.

 
  9:50 a.m.   And-16-447   State of Maine v. Michael R. McNaughton
     

Attorneys: Leanne Robbin, Verne E. Paradie Jr.

Michael McNaughton was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  McNaughton appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in (1) determining that the interrogating detectives did not violate his right to remain silent, and denying his motion to suppress his confession; and (2) admitting into evidence photographs of injuries to McNaughton’s body, which detectives obtained only by seizing, without a warrant, clothing that they had no probable cause to believe would be of any evidentiary value.  McNaughton also asserts that the State denied his due process rights by recklessly and knowingly presented false testimony of an alleged accomplice whom the State allowed to plead to a “sweetheart deal” in exchange for his testimony.

 
  10:40 a.m.   Ken-16-358   State Tax Assessor v. MCI Communications Services, Inc.
     

Attorneys: Kimberly L. Patwardhan, Jonathan M. Dunitz, Cindy B. Gonzales

The Maine Board of Tax Appeals determined that “property tax recovery charges” (PTRCs) and “carrier cost recovery charges” (CCRCs), which MCI charges customers to recover property taxes and regulatory costs that it pays to state, local, and federal governments, were not taxable because they were charged only in connection with sales of interstate and international services.  The State Tax Assessor sought review from the Superior Court, and the Superior Court affirmed the Board’s decision.

The State Tax Assessor appeals, arguing that the PTRCs and CCRCs are subject to taxation because they are part of the “sale price” for MCI’s services in Maine and because MCI failed to show that the charges were for interstate or international telecommunications services.

 
  11:30 a.m.   Pen-16-316   Federal National Mortgage Association v. Patricia W. Deschaine et al.
     

Attorneys: Jeffrey J. Hardiman, Dean J. Wagner, James F. Cloutier, John A. Doonan, Reneau J. Longoria, Gerald Petruccelli, Catherine R. Connors, John J. Aromando, Frank D'Allessandro, L. Scott Gould, Thomas A. Cox, Jeffrey Gentes

The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) filed a foreclosure action against Patricia and Paul Deschaine. The Superior Court dismissed the action on the ground that it was precluded by the dismissal with prejudice of a 2011 foreclosure action. FNMA appeals, arguing that (1) the dismissal of its 2011 action on procedural grounds did not operate as an adjudication on the merits; (2) FNMA did not accelerate the note merely by bringing the 2011 action; (3) it is inequitable to bar FNMA from foreclosing on the property; and (4) FNMA is therefore not barred from pursuing a second foreclosure action on the subject property.

 

 
  1:30 p.m.   BCD-16-466   Xpress Natural Gas LLC et al. v. Woodland Pulp LLC
     

Attorneys: Jennifer A. Archer, Timothy H. Norton, William S. Harwood, Martha C. Gaythwaite, Brian T. Marshall

The Superior Court affirmed an arbitration award regarding a “pipeline capacity agreement” (PCA) under which Xpress Natural Gas, LLC, uses a portion of Woodland Pulp, LLC’s, natural-gas pipeline.  The arbitrator had ordered the parties to negotiate a “balancing” agreement and, after the parties could not agree on a balancing agreement, the arbitrator imposed terms regarding balancing. 

XNG appeals, arguing that (1) the arbitrator exceeded his authority by inferring a balancing obligation in the PCA, ordering the parties to negotiate terms of the balancing obligation, and rewriting the terms of the PCA to include a balancing agreement, and (2) the Superior Court erred in denying its motion to clarify the enforceability of the arbitration agreement pending the judicial proceedings.

 
  2:20 p.m.   Lin-16-547   Eric A. Teele v. Lisa West Harper
     

Attorneys: Jonathan C. Hull, William M. Avantaggio

The District Court denied Eric Teele’s request for credit for child support payments that he made during a period for which Lisa West Harper received dependent disability benefits that the children became entitled to because of Teele’s disability.  The court concluded that 19-A M.R.S. § 2107 precluded it from giving Teele credit for the dependent disability benefits because the then-effective child support order did not provide for a credit.

Teele appeals, arguing that section 2107 permits a credit in the circumstances, and that a contrary interpretation will discourage child support obligors from continuing to pay child support while their disability applications are pending.