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Royal v. State

Court of Appeals of Maryland
Nov 11, 1964
204 A.2d 500 (Md. 1964)

Summary

In Royal v. State, 236 Md. 443, 204 A.2d 500 the same factual situation arose; however, the Court of Appeals of Maryland answered the contentions of Royal without a discussion of whether Royal had proper standing to object.

Summary of this case from Poling v. State

Opinion

[No. 33, September Term, 1964.]

Decided November 11, 1964.

CRIMINAL LAW — Privilege Against Self-Incrimination — Not A Prohibition Of Inquiry, But Option Of Refusal — Witness Should Be Called To Stand And Sworn — Proper Procedure To Be Followed. Even though a witness cannot be compelled to give self-incriminating testimony, Art. 22 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, he should be called to the witness stand and sworn because the privilege is not a prohibition of inquiry, but an option of refusal. And while it is proper in some instances for the court to advise a witness of his privilege, it is ordinarily not necessary for the court to inform an accomplice called as a witness, as was the case here, of his privilege. This is so because the privilege is a personal one which only the witness may assert. The proper course of procedure is for the witness to wait until a question has been propounded which tends to incriminate him and then to decline to answer it. p. 447

CRIMINAL LAW — Privilege Against Self-Incrimination — Claim Of, By Witnesses Called By Defendant — Trial Court Not In Error In Not Requiring These Witnesses To Testify. Under the circumstances of the present criminal case the Court found no impropriety upon the trial court's part in not requiring witnesses called by the defendant to testify in his behalf. It appeared that the witnesses had invoked the privilege against self-incrimination because other criminal proceedings were pending against them, and had they testified, their testimony might have incriminated them. The defendant's counsel made no objection to the invocation of the privilege, and in circumstances where the court is satisfied that the claim has a substantial basis, the mere refusal to testify under a claim of privilege may justify the upholding of the privilege. In any event, no proffer having been made with respect to what testimony the defendant expected to elicit from the co-defendants, no prejudice was shown by their refusal to testify. pp. 447-448

CRIMINAL LAW — Jury Case — Sufficiency Of Evidence Not Reviewed On Appeal In Absence Of Motion For Judgment Of Acquittal Below. p. 448

CRIMINAL LAW — Sufficiency Of Evidence — Jury Case — To Overturn Judgment, Defendant Must Show That There Was No Legally Sufficient Evidence Or Inferences Therefrom Upon Which Jury Could Find Him Guilty Beyond Reasonable Doubt — Not Shown In Present Case. pp. 448-449

CRIMINAL LAW — Failure Of Trial Court To Caution Jury Not To Draw Unfavorable Presumption Or Inference Against Defendant Because Co-Defendants Refused To Testify — No Request Made For Such An Instruction, And Nothing In Record Which Would Have Required One Upon This Point Had Objection To Its Omission Been Made. p. 449

CRIMINAL LAW — Prisoner May Not Question Priority Of Jurisdiction As Between State And Federal Courts — Nothing In Record In Present Case To Indicate That State Had Failed To Press For Prisoner's Return, And No Showing That State Was Dilatory In Requesting That He Be Brought Here First. p. 449

CRIMINAL LAW — Claim Of Inadequate Preparation For Trial By Counsel — Counsel Visited Jail As Soon As He Was Notified For Two Stated Purposes — Both Purposes Accomplished, And There Was No Reason To Request Postponement. p. 450

CRIMINAL LAW — Two Or More Indictments May Be Tried Together If Offenses Charged Could Have Been Joined In Single Indictment, As Was Case Here — No Error Here In Allowing Same Petit Jury To Try Robbery And Deadly Weapon Charges. p. 450

Decided November 11, 1964.

Appeal from the Criminal Court of Baltimore (HARLAN, J.).

Doyle D. Royal was convicted of armed robbery and of carrying a deadly weapon by a jury, and from the judgments entered thereon, he appeals.

Affirmed.

The cause was submitted to HENDERSON, C.J., and HAMMOND, PRESCOTT, HORNEY and SYBERT, JJ.

Submitted on brief by Stanley J. Schapiro for the appellant.

Submitted on brief by Thomas B. Finan, Attorney General, David T. Mason, Assistant Attorney General, William J. O'Donnell, State's Attorney for Baltimore City, and Andrew J. Graham, Assistant State's Attorney, for the appellee.


The principal question presented by appellate counsel for the defendant (Doyle D. Royal) on this appeal from convictions of armed robbery and for carrying a deadly weapon relates to the propriety of the trial court allowing codefendants to invoke the privilege against self-incrimination. Additional questions concern the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the verdicts of guilty, the failure of the court to caution the jury that it should not draw an unfavorable presumption or inference against the defendant because the codefendants refused to testify, and the refusal of the court to quash the indictments.

In the early evening of a day in August 1962, a supermarket on Belair Road was held up and robbed by two men. One of them pointed a pistol at the manager and demanded money. He gave them all he had and the robbers put it in a cardboard box and fled. A short time later, the police, converging on the scene of the crime in response to a radio message as to the robbery, apprehended the defendant and his codefendants (Richard Elliott and James Robert Gale) in an automobile fitting the description and license number of one observed leaving the supermarket after the hold up. A cardboard box (containing $2300 in cash) was found in the automobile and a pistol was removed from the belt of the defendant. At the trial, the store manager identified the defendant as the one who held the gun. Three of the store clerks and a customer also identified him.

The defendant testified that he was not a party to the robbery, that he had not participated in it in any way, and that he had no knowledge of the crime. While he admitted being with the codefendants all day in a downtown bar until late afternoon, he claimed that he was let out of the automobile in Hamilton, he to get something to eat, they to go borrow some money; that the codefendants picked him up about twenty-five minutes later on the way to a baseball game at the stadium as previously arranged; and that while proceeding to their destination they were apprehended by the police. The defendant further claimed that although the police had searched him three times and found nothing, one of them came up to him a fourth time with the pistol, "pulled it out from the front" of the defendant, and stated that he had found the weapon on the defendant.

The day before he was scheduled to be tried, the defendant escaped from jail. He was subsequently apprehended by the federal authorities in Nevada and taken to New Jersey to await trial on a federal charge of bank robbery. After he had been sentenced to the federal penitentiary at Atlanta, he demanded a speedy trial and, subsequently filed a motion to quash all indictments then pending against him in Baltimore City on the ground that the State of Maryland had relinquished and waived its claim to jurisdiction over him by failing to make demand for him and permitting him to be prosecuted in a district court in New Jersey.

(i)

Under the circumstances of this case we find no impropriety in the trial court not requiring the witnesses called by the defendant to testify in his behalf. The claim of error is based on the contention that the witnesses, though they were codefendants, were compellable witnesses since they had been previously tried and convicted and because there was nothing to show that they were subject to further prosecution or punishment. The record does not support the contention: instead it appears that each witness invoked the privilege because other criminal proceedings were pending against them and that, if they testified, their testimony might incriminate them.

As each witness was sworn, the trial court undertook to advise him that he had a right to refuse to take the stand and inquired as to his desire. Even though a witness cannot be compelled to give self-incriminating testimony, Article 22 of the Declaration of Rights, he should be called to the witness stand and sworn. Midgett v. State, 223 Md. 282, 289, 164 A.2d 526 (1960). See also Adams v. State, 200 Md. 133, 88 A.2d 556 (1952). This is so because the privilege is not a prohibition of inquiry, but is an option of refusal. See 8 Wigmore, Evidence (McNaughton rev.), § 2268. And while it is proper in some instances for the court to advise a witness of his privilege against self-incrimination (see, for example, Midgett v. State, supra, at p. 291), it is ordinarily not necessary for the court to inform an accomplice called as a witness, as was the case here, of his constitutional right to claim immunity from testifying. See Forrester v. State, 224 Md. 337, 167 A.2d 878 (1961). See also Butz v. State, 221 Md. 68, 156 A.2d 423 (1959). This is so because the privilege against self-incrimination is a personal one and only the witness may assert it. The proper course of procedure is for the witness to wait until a question has been propounded which tends to incriminate him and then decline to answer it. Midgett v. State, supra (at p. 289). Likewise, if further interrogation is pressed as is often the case, the witness should answer the questions, one by one when propounded, or claim his privilege to decline answering; otherwise, since it cannot be known beforehand which he will do, the court would be unable to rule whether an answer to the particular question might incriminate the witness. This, of course, is a matter for the trial judge to determine as and when each claim of privilege is invoked. Midgett v. State, supra (at p. 289).

It appears that in the case at bar each witness, after stating his desire to refuse to take the stand or to testify, in response to the court's inquiry, was nevertheless sworn and subjected to examination by counsel for the defendant and answered all questions propounded to him. When the codefendant Elliott was asked why he refused to take the stand, he stated that he had other legal matters pending in court, some of which were an outgrowth of this case and others that were not yet in court. When the codefendant Gale was asked why he refused to testify, he replied that there were "things" that could incriminate him. In both instances, trial counsel asked no further questions, apparently, as the record indicates, because he realized that further questioning would have been futile.

Although the record is silent as to what proceedings were then pending, or likely to be thereafter filed, against the codefendants and as to how their testimony in this case could incriminate them, it may well be, since no objection was made to the invocation of the privilege, that counsel for the defendant as well as the trial court, were aware of the situation. In circumstances where the court is satisfied that the claim has a substantial basis, the mere refusal to testify under a claim of privilege may justify the upholding of the privilege. See Midgett v. State, supra (at p. 291). In any event, since no proffer was made with respect to what testimony the defendant expected to elicit from the codefendants, no prejudice has been shown by their refusal to testify.

(ii)

Apart from the rule that this Court will not review the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal in the absence of a motion for a judgment of acquittal below, Tull v. State, 230 Md. 152, 186 A.2d 205 (1962), we have consistently held that in order to overturn a judgment entered on the verdict of a jury for insufficiency of the evidence it is necessary to show that there was no legally sufficient evidence or inferences drawable therefrom on which the jury could find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Coates v. State, 232 Md. 72, 191 A.2d 579 (1963). This was clearly not the case here as the recital of facts shows.

(iii)

The suggestion of the defendant that the failure of the trial court to caution the jury that it should not draw an unfavorable presumption or inference against the defendant because the codefendants refused to testify was a "plain error" which this Court should correct pursuant to Maryland Rule 756 g, is clearly without merit as a reading of the sufficiently adequate advisory instruction shows. See Jones v. State, 229 Md. 472, 184 A.2d 809 (1962). Not only was no request made for such an instruction, but we find nothing in the record which would have required one on this point had an objection to its omission been made. Cf. Canter v. State, 220 Md. 615, 155 A.2d 498 (1959).

(iv)

Nor is there any merit to the contention that the indictments should have been quashed on the ground that the State of Maryland relinquished and waived jurisdiction over the defendant. There is nothing in the record to indicate that the State failed to press for his return from Nevada after he had been apprehended there by federal authorities. Nor was there a showing that the State was dilatory in requesting that he be brought here first. In any case, in a situation such as this a prisoner may not question priority of jurisdiction as between State and Federal courts. See Ponzi v. Fessenden, 258 U.S. 254 (1922). See also Williams v. Taylor, 327 F.2d 322 (C.A. 10th 1964), cert. den. 377 U.S. 1002 (1964).

(v)

The defendant, because his appellate counsel properly refused to submit other asserted grounds for appeal pertaining to incidents outside of or not supported by the record, undertook to file what he called a "brief pro se," in which, besides raising the same question appellate counsel had already presented with respect to invoking the privilege against self-incrimination, also raised questions concerning the claimed ineffectiveness of trial counsel and the impropriety of allowing the same petit jury to judge his guilt on separate indictments.

Since there is a possibility that these last two questions might be raised in a post conviction proceeding and there are sufficient facts in the record and briefs to enable us to determine whether or not there is any merit to the contentions, we deem it expedient to dispose of them now. See Graczyk v. State, 230 Md. 299, 186 A.2d 616 (1962). As to the contention that the defendant had ineffective assistance of counsel because he was not adequately prepared for trial, the record shows that counsel went to the city jail as soon as he was notified that the defendant had arrived in Baltimore from Atlanta for purposes of getting the names of defendant's witnesses and of refreshing his memory (after a lapse of fifteen months) as to the facts and that he accomplished both purposes. There was therefore no reason to request a postponement. See Lewis v. State, 228 Md. 600, 180 A.2d 839 (1962); Harmon v. State, 227 Md. 602, 177 A.2d 902 (1962). With respect to the contention that the court erred in allowing the same petit jury to judge his guilt on the robbery charge as well as the deadly weapon charge, we need only point out that Rule 734 specifically provides that two or more indictments may be tried together if the offenses charged could have been joined in a single indictment, as was the case here. See Lewis v. State, 235 Md. 588, 202 A.2d 370 (1964).

Judgments affirmed.


Summaries of

Royal v. State

Court of Appeals of Maryland
Nov 11, 1964
204 A.2d 500 (Md. 1964)

In Royal v. State, 236 Md. 443, 204 A.2d 500 the same factual situation arose; however, the Court of Appeals of Maryland answered the contentions of Royal without a discussion of whether Royal had proper standing to object.

Summary of this case from Poling v. State

In Royal the Court found no impropriety in the trial court not requiring the witnesses called by the defendant to testify in his behalf.

Summary of this case from Boone v. State
Case details for

Royal v. State

Case Details

Full title:ROYAL v . STATE

Court:Court of Appeals of Maryland

Date published: Nov 11, 1964

Citations

204 A.2d 500 (Md. 1964)
204 A.2d 500

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