Daniel Wood v. Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Verne E. Paradie Jr.; Mark Randlett
Hunting & fishing; vagueness of statutes; delegation of authority to administrative agencies
Daniel Wood appeals from a decision of the Superior Court affirming a decision of the commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife revoking Wood’s hunting license for three years and his Maine Guide license for one year. Wood argues that (1) the Department erred in determining that he was subject to a mandatory suspension of his hunting license pursuant to 12 M.R.S. §10902(4)(A) because he was not convicted of a criminal offense “while on a hunting or fishing trip or in the pursuit of wild animals”; (2) section 10902(4)(A) is void for vagueness to the extent that it requires a suspension for a crime where the charging instrument did not allege hunting, fishing, or pursuing wild animals; (3) the statute and administrative process giving the Department discretion to suspend a hunting license are void for vagueness; and (4) the standards of competency for Maine Guides, which the Department determined Wood had violated, are arbitrary and delegate too much authority to the Department.
State of Maine v. Robert Santerre
Maeghan Maloney; Bruce W. Hepler; Benjamin E. Hartwell
Causing death of person while committing traffic infraction; consecutive penalties
Robert Santerre appeals from the adjudication, based on his admissions, that he committed three counts of the civil violation of causing the death of a person while committing a traffic infraction. Santerre argues that the court erred by imposing consecutive license suspensions for each of the three counts given that the three deaths occurred as a result of one act or occurrence and the relevant statutes do not permit consecutive penalties.
Robert Bocko v. University of Maine System
Matthew S. Wahrer; David Strock; Valeria A. Wright
Payment of wages; exempt employees
Robert Bocko, who was an adjunct instructor for the University of Maine School of Law, appeals from a summary judgment entered by the Superior Court in favor of the University of Maine System on Bocko’s claims for breach of contract and violation of 26 M.R.S. § 621-A, which requires payment of wages at least once every 16 days for most employees. Bocko argues that the Superior Court erred in determining that the requirements of the statute did not apply to Bocko because he was a teacher and a salaried employee.
Huns Utsch et al. v. Department of Environmental Protection
Matthew D. Manahan; Joshua D. Dunlap; Robert L. Martin; Margaret A. Bensinger; Edmond J. Bearor; Jonathan P. Hunter
Review of agency action; mining
Hans Utsch and Julia Hazzard Merck appeal from an order of the Superior Court denying their Rule 80C appeal challenging a determination, in the form of an email, by the Department of Environmental Protection that the owners of a quarry near their residence need not file a Notice of Intent to Comply pursuant to 38 M.R.S. § 490-Y before restarting operations at the quarry. Utsch and Merck argue that the Department and the Superior Court erred in determining that the quarry’s operations were permitted under a “grandfathering” clause in section 490-Y.
The Department cross-appeals, arguing that the Superior Court erred in (1) determining that Utsch and Hazzard Merck have standing to challenge the determination, (2) determining that the Department’s email constitutes final agency action, and (3) treating Utsch and Hazzard Merck’s Rule 80C complaint in the alternative as a request for declaratory relief.
Topics and summary to be announced
State of Maine v. Nicholas W. Norris
Jason Horn; James M. Mason
Dismissal of charge by State; speedy trial; probable cause to support search and tracking warrants
Upon suspecting Nicholas Norris of trafficking in drugs, law enforcement obtained warrants in Penobscot County to track and search Norris’s vehicle. Law enforcement stopped Norris’s vehicle near the border between Penobscot and Somerset Counties. Norris was indicted in Penobscot County for trafficking in drugs. Norris moved to suppress the traffic stop, and the trial court denied the motion.
On the first day of trial, the State filed a notice of dismissal of the charges, stating that an investigation “suggested” that Norris was stopped in Somerset County more than 1,800 feet from the border with Penobscot County. Norris objected to the dismissal, but the trial court accepted the dismissal.
After a jury trial in Somerset County, Norris was convicted of two counts of aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs (Class A), one count of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class B), and criminal forfeiture. Norris appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in (1) granting the motion to dismiss the Penobscot matter without prejudice because the resulting delay violated Norris’s right to a speedy trial under the Maine and United States Constitutions and (2) denying his motion to suppress because the warrants were not supported by probable cause and law enforcement did not comply with the requirements of M.R.U. Crim. P. 41(g).
Oral Arguments: Thursday, June 8, 2023
At the Penobscot Judicial Center, Bangor
OUI; validity of search warrant; good-faith exception to exclusionary rule
Joshua R. Savage appeals from a judgment of the Unified Criminal Docket convicting him of manslaughter (Class A) and aggravated operating under the influence (Class B). Savage argues that (1) a search warrant to obtain his medical records and blood and urine samples from him was not supported by probable cause because the affidavit in support of the warrant relied on purely non-criminal behavior and (2) the “good faith” exception to the exclusionary rule did not apply.
State of Maine v. Tara L. Watson
Francis J. Griffin Jr.; Sarah Gracie; Neil J. Prendergast
Unlawful possession of cocaine base; sentencing
Tara L. Watson appeals from the sentences imposed on her for her conviction of unlawful possession of cocaine base (Class C), refusal to submit to arrest or detention (Class E), and violation of condition of release (Class E). Watson argues that the sentencing court (1) “invent[ed] sentencing standards out of thin air” and placed her conduct on what the court called a “mythical continuum” of the ways in which the crime could have been committed and (2) failed to consider mitigating factors, such as her guilty plea, showing acceptance of responsibility, soon after being charged.
Human Rights Defense Center v. Maine County Commissioners Association Self-Funded Risk Management Pool
Jeffrey T. Edwards; Carol J. Garvan; Zachary L. Heiden; Anahita D. Sotoohi
Freedom of Access Act; relation back of amendments to complaint; bad faith
The Maine County Commissioners Association Self-Funded Risk Management Pool appeals from a judgment of the Superior Court requiring it to provide to the Human Rights Defense Center documents showing that it paid $30,000 to settle a lawsuit against Kennebec County and ordering it to pay the Defense Center’s attorney fees. The Risk Pool argues that the Superior Court erred in (1) determining that the Defense Center’s amended complaint, which added the Risk Pool as a defendant, “related back” to the date of the Defense Center’s original complaint and was therefore timely; (2) determining that the Risk Pool could not challenge the timeliness of the Defense Center’s appeal by relying on new evidence presented at the evidentiary hearing; and (3) finding that the Risk Pool acted in bad faith.
Meggan M. Pratt v. State of Maine
Rory A. McNamara; Matthew A. Hunter
Post-conviction review; ineffective assistance of counsel; opening statements
Meggan Pratt appeals from the trial court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction review that challenged her conviction for domestic violence assault against her child on the ground that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. Pratt argues that (1) the post-conviction court erred in determining that trial counsel did not act unreasonably by stating in the opening statement that Pratt was going to assert a parental-discipline defense, thereby opening the door to evidence about Pratt’s parenting, and (2) she suffered prejudice from the combination of trial counsel’s opening statement and trial counsel’s failure to object to prosecutorial error.
State of Maine v. Alexander Russell
Emily C. Protzmann; Kate E. Marshall; Rory A. McNamara
Gross sexual assault; jury instructions; sentencing
Alexander Russell appeals from a judgment of the Unified Criminal Docket convicting him of gross sexual assault (Class A), gross sexual assault (Class B), unlawful sexual contact (Class B), unlawful sexual contact (Class C), and unlawful sexual touching (Class D). Russell argues that the trial court erred by (1) denying his request to instruct the jury that a poor-quality police investigation into the alleged crimes can raise reasonable doubt about a defendant’s guilt; (2) failing to give a specific-unanimity instruction; (3) instructing the jury that they could consider whether there was evidence of a motive or lack of motive for any witness to lie; and (4) increasing his sentence because of his “lack of remorse” when there was no evidence to support a finding of a “lack of remorse.”
State of Maine v. Damien Osborn
Jason Horn; Timothy E. Zerillop
Brian J. Fournier appeals from orders of the Business and Consumer Docket (BCD) (Duddy, J.) (1) dismissing his claims against Flats Industrial, Inc., and three individual fellow shareholders (collectively Flats) for breach of fiduciary duty and (2) denying his motion to amend his complaint for a third time. Fournier argues that the BCD erred in (1) determining that amending his complaint for a third time would be futile; (2) determining that his direct claim for breach of fiduciary duty was not a proper direct claim but was a derivative claim, given that he had alleged that the other shareholders had denied him his right to vote as a shareholder; and (3) dismissing his derivative claim given that Flats’s denial of his request to the corporation to take action on some of his claims was wrongful, and he was not required to make a request of the corporation on all his claims because making a request on the remaining claims would have been futile.
Flats moved to dismiss Fournier’s appeal as untimely because the appeal was filed more than 21 days after the stipulation of dismissal that disposed of the last of Fournier’s claims against them. The Law Court ordered that the motion be considered with the merits of the appeal. Fournier argues that a motion for a protective order that Flats filed with the stipulation of dismissal prevented the stipulation of dismissal from constituting a final judgment.
Oral Arguments: Thursday October 6, 2022, at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta
The District Court terminated Jennifer N.’s parental rights to her children. Jennifer N. appeals, arguing that the evidence was not sufficient to support a finding of parental unfitness or that termination of her parental rights is in the children’s best interest. Specifically, she argues that she has been sober for eighteen months, that she has been committed to services to resolve her mental health issues but the Department of Health and Human Services did not provide sufficient reunification services, and that the children have been moved several times since being placed in the Department’s care and there is therefore no permanency at stake were she to be given a “fair chance to reunify.”
In re Children of Traci D.
Hunter C. Umphrey; Ashley T. Perry
The District Court terminated Traci D.’s parental rights to her children after she failed to appear for the final hearing. Traci D. appeals, arguing that the evidence was not sufficient to support the trial court’s findings and that the trial court erred by using a draft order terminating her parental rights that had been prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services and that failed to make sufficient independent factual findings.
Dennis F. Winchester v. State of Maine
Lawrence C. Winger; Todd R. Collins
The trial court denied Dennis Winchester’s petitions for post-conviction review of his convictions for various burglaries and thefts. On appeal, Winchester argues that his attorneys in the original criminal proceedings provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to pursue speedy-trial claims in the trial court and on appeal. This Court invited amicus briefs to address whether Winchester’s right to a speedy trial was violated under article 1, section 6 of the Maine Constitution or under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
State of Maine et al. v. Moosehead Mountain Resort et al.
Lauren E. Parker; Elliott R. Teel; Jonathan M. Flagg
The Superior Court granted summary judgment and awarded damages to the State of Maine in its suit against Moosehead Mountain Resort that sought to enforce covenants on a ski area once owned by the state and now owned by Moosehead, to ensure that the land remained available to the public. Moosehead appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in determining that (1) the deed to a predecessor-in-interest of Moosehead’s required that the land be maintained in a certain way; (2) a covenant can run with the land without a benefited parcel, (3) there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding whether a certain parcel retained by the State was a benefitted parcel or whether the defense of latches applied, (4) the ambiguities in the deed regarding the covenants must be resolved in favor of the state, (5) the covenant requiring that the land be available for “public use” is reasonable, and (6) the state was not required to give notice of its interpretation of the public-use covenant before suing Moosehead.
Francis Janusz et al. v. Eric Bacon et al.
William N. Palmer; Jonathan E. Selkowitz
The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Francis and Maryann Janusz on their complaint for foreclosure against Eric Bacon. Bacon appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in determining that (1) the parties had completed mediation, which is a statutory prerequisite to a judgment of foreclosure; and (2) Bacon received proper notice of the motion for summary judgment even though the Januszes did not mail a copy of the motion to Bacon’s address of record.
Michael Zani et al. v. Medora Zani et al.
Laura P. Shaw; Christopher K. MacLean; Marie Mueller; George T. Dilworth; Amy K. Olfene; Andre G. Duchette
In 2018, while she was the subject of a guardianship and conservatorship, Patricia Spofford executed a will that was admitted to probate upon her death. Spofford’s sons, Michael Zani and Peter Zani, filed suit in the Superior Court seeking a declaratory judgment that their mother lacked testamentary capacity when she executed the 2018 will and the imposition of a constructive trust on Spofford’s property, and alleging wrongful interference with an expectancy of inheritance against a beneficiary of the will and fraud against a witness to the will.
The Superior Court entered summary judgment against the Zanis on all counts. The Zanis appeal, arguing that the Superior Court erred in determining that there was no dispute of material fact regarding Spofford’s testamentary capacity on the date that she executed the 2018 will given that there was evidence of Spofford’s lack of testamentary capacity both before and after that date.
Cases on Briefs
Week of May 22, 2023
June 6, 7, and 8, 2023, at Bangor
Week of June 19, 2023
July 5, 6, and 7, 2023, at Augusta
Week of July 17, 2023
September 12, 13, and 14, 2023, at Portland
Week of September 25, 2023
October 3, 4, and 5, 2023, at Augusta and high schools to be announced