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Goldberg v. Maryland

January 13, 1987

BERNARD F. GOLDBERG, SR.
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND



Appeal from the Circuit Court for Howard County, Martin Wolff, Judge.

Garrity, Bloom and Wenner, JJ.

Bloom

At a non-jury trial before Judge Martin A. Wolff in the Circuit Court for Howard County, appellant, Bernard F. Goldberg, was convicted of several counts of fraudulent misappropriation and one count of statutory theft. He received a sentence of seven years, with all but two years suspended in favor of five years probation, and he was ordered to make restitution.

Appellant's sole contention on this appeal is that Judge Wolff erred in denying his motion to quash the indictment against him. That contention is supported by three arguments, the single thrust of which is that the appearance of two unauthorized persons before the grand jury while it was conducting the inquiry leading to the indictment invalidated the indictment. William Hymes, the State's Attorney for Howard County, had appointed the Deputy State Prosecutor and an Assistant State Prosecutor as "Special Assistant State's Attorneys for Howard County" in order that

they could appear before the grand jury and prosecute Mr. Goldberg. Appellant argues (1) that the State's Attorney lacked authority to appoint special assistants without prior approval by the court; (2) that the offices of Assistant (or Special Assistant) State's Attorney, Deputy State Prosecutor, and Assistant State Prosecutor are all offices for profit within the meaning of Article 35 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, which prohibits any person from holding two offices for profit at the same time; and (3) that the Deputy and Assistant State Prosecutors could not lawfully accept appointments as Special Assistant State's Attorneys.

We disagree with appellant's arguments and, therefore, reject his contention that the indictment was invalid. Accordingly, we will affirm the judgments against him.

Facts

William Hymes, the State's Attorney for Howard County, requested assistance from the office of the State Prosecutor in investigating certain alleged criminal activities of appellant. Stephen Montanarelli, the State Prosecutor, assigned his deputy, Gerald R. Ruter, and one of his assistants, Bernard A. Penner, to the investigation. Subsequently, after the investigation yielded evidence sufficient to justify prosecution, Hymes appointed Ruter and Penner as Special Assistant State's Attorneys for Howard County, in order that they might present evidence before the grand jury, obtain an indictment, and prosecute appellant. Mr. Montanarelli approved the appointments.

Ruter and Penner were administered the oath of office of Special Assistant State's Attorney by the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Howard County. The State's Attorney did not obtain any prior written or oral authorization of these appointments from the court, nor was there any subsequent ratification of the appointments of Ruter and Penner by the court. Neither the County Executive nor the County Council of Howard County gave Hymes any specific authority to appoint, name or designate Ruter and Penner as Special Assistant State's Attorneys.

Ruter and Penner, purporting to act solely in their capacities as Special Assistant State's Attorneys, appeared before the grand jury and presented to it evidence that resulted in the multi-count indictment against appellant. There is no contention that Ruter and Penner participated in the actual deliberations of the grand jury. Although the indictment was signed by the State's Attorney, neither Hymes nor his deputy nor any of his regular full time assistants participated in the presentation to the grand jury.

Except for the periods of time they were actually appearing before the grand jury or engaged in the prosecution of the case against appellant (when they were purportedly acting as Special Assistant State's Attorneys for Howard County), Ruter and Penner continued to act and regard themselves as Deputy and Assistant State Prosecutor. They received no compensation whatsoever from the State's Attorney's Office for the duties performed while acting in their capacity as Special Assistant State's Attorneys; instead, throughout their participation in this matter, Ruter and Penner received their usual compensation as employees of the office of the State Prosecutor. The State Prosecutor made no effort to seek reimbursement from the State's Attorney's Office for the services performed by Ruter and Penner during the course of their participation in the investigation and trial of appellant.

At the hearing on appellant's motion to dismiss, Hymes proffered several reasons for requesting the assistance of the State Prosecutor's Office in this matter. At the time investigation into appellant's allegedly criminal activities was begun, appellant was employed as the Public Defender of Howard County. Hymes testified that he was reluctant to become involved in the matter in that there might be at least an appearance of a conflict of interest because the Public Defender and State's Attorney's staffs had contact on a daily basis and because Goldberg had represented Hymes many years previously in a civil matter. Hymes also testified that he initially thought that the State Prosecutor might have jurisdiction over the investigatory phase

in that there was a possibility the alleged offenses were multi-jurisdictional in nature. Dwight Thompson, Deputy State's Attorney for Howard County, testified that it became apparent at a later date that the bulk of the alleged criminal activity took place in Howard County. Thompson additionally proffered that the State's Attorney's Office hoped to minimize the damage to appellant's reputation by having persons outside the regularly paid staff of the State's Attorney investigate appellant's purported criminal activity.

I

It is well-established that an indictment is ineffective whenever persons who are not legally authorized to appear before the grand jury have been present during the inquiry leading up to the indictment. Coblentz v. State, 164 Md. 558, 568, 166 A. 45 (1933). See also State v. Ensor & Compton, 277 Md. 529, 533, 356 A.2d 259 (1976). This is so even where there has been no allegation of injury, and no corrupt or unlawful means have been employed. Coblentz, supra, 164 Md. at 568, 166 A. 45.

If one is authorized to appear before the grand jury in any single capacity, however, the fact that he is unauthorized to appear in another or different capacity will not serve to invalidate the indictment. Ensor & Compton, supra, 277 Md. at 538, 356 A.2d 259.

In the case at hand, the State has not contended on appeal,*fn1 nor could it,*fn2 that Ruter and Penner were authorized

to attend the grand jury in their capacities as Deputy State Prosecutor and Assistant State Prosecutor. Thus, the validity of the indictment turns on whether Ruter and Penner were properly before the grand jury in their capacities as Special Assistant State's Attorneys.

Appellant's first contention is that the State's Attorney does not have the power, solely on his own authority, to appoint Special Assistant State's Attorneys to prosecute an action, so that the appearance of Ruter and Penner before the grand jury was unauthorized.

An examination of the role of the State's Attorney under Maryland law, we believe, compels a contrary conclusion.

The State's Attorney is a constitutional officer. Md. Const. Art. V, § 7. Murphy v. Yates, 276 Md. 475, 488, 348 A.2d 837 (1975). Article V, Section 9 of the Maryland Constitution, as amended in 1976,*fn3 provides in part that

"The State's Attorney shall perform such duties and receive such salary as shall be prescribed by the General Assembly." Article 10, section 34 of the Md. Ann. Code (1981 Repl.Vol.) implements these constitutional provisions. State v. Aquilla, 18 Md. App. 487, 493, 309 A.2d 44 (1973). It provides that "The State's attorney for each county and the City of Baltimore shall . . . prosecute and defend, on the part of the State, all cases in which the State may be interested subject to the provisions of § 33B [Duties of the State Prosecutor] of this article." The Court of Appeals has held that this is the only statute which "purports to delimit the authority of the State's Attorney. . . ." Food Fair Stores, Inc. v. Joy, 283 Md. 205, 213, 389 A.2d 874 (1978). Under the current constitutional scheme,*fn4 the office

of State's Attorney is "possessed of no other powers that those prescribed by the constitutions [sic] and statutes of the State." Aquilla, supra, 18 Md. App. at 493, 309 A.2d 44; Hawkins v. State, 81 Md. 306, 310, 32 A. 278 (1895); Kilgour v. The Evening Star Newspaper Co., 96 Md. 16, 29, 53 A. 716 (1902). Those powers, however, are nowhere defined or enunciated. Aquilla, supra, 18 Md. App. at 493, 309 A.2d 44; Wells v. Price, 183 Md. 443, 446, 37 A.2d 888 (1944). The courts have held, nevertheless, that the State's Attorney is vested with the broadest official discretion to institute and prosecute criminal causes. Food Fair, supra, 283 Md. at 213, 389 A.2d 874; Ewell v. State, 207 Md. 288, 296, 114 A.2d 66 (1955); Brack v. Wells, 184 Md. 86, 90, 40 A.2d 319 (1944); Aquilla, supra, 18 Md. App. at 493, 309 A.2d 44.

To fulfill his constitutional and statutory mandate, a State's Attorney may generally assign to his deputies and assistants the duties required of him by law, subject to his discretion and control. Aquilla, supra, 18 Md. App. at 494, 309 A.2d 44; Matter of Anderson, 20 Md. App. 31, 49, 315 A.2d 540 (1974). And such deputies and assistants may, at the assignment of the State's Attorney, attend the grand jury. Aquilla, supra, 18 Md. App. at 494, 309 A.2d 44.

In Aquilla, we noted that under art. 10, sec. 40, the General Assembly had explicitly granted to the deputies and/or assistants of State's Attorneys in certain counties the same legal powers of the State's Attorney to represent the State before grand juries. We found the failure of the Legislature explicitly to grant this power to deputies or assistants of State's Attorneys in other counties did not mean they could not attend the grand jury. Rather, we held such authority was implicit in the mandate of art. 10, sec. 34 that the State's Attorney "prosecute and defend" all

cases in which the State may be interested. 18 Md. App. at 494, 495, 309 A.2d 44.

It has similarly been established that Special Assistant State's Attorneys who have been properly appointed and enjoy a status sufficiently comparable to that of Assistant State's Attorney may attend the grand jury. Id. at 495-96, 309 A.2d 44.*fn5

We shall hold in this case that the authority of a State's Attorney to appoint Special Assistant State's Attorneys is implicit in the statutory mandate of article 10, section 34.

The fact that the General Assembly, by art. 10, section 40, has been explicit in granting certain State's Attorneys the authority to appoint temporary or Special Assistant State's Attorneys,*fn6 but has not done so in other cases does not mean the State's Attorneys of other counties are not similarly empowered. By analogy to the holding in Aquilla, we conclude that the Legislature has merely given explicit recognition under some subsections of art. 10, section 40 to a power already implicit under art. 10, section 34. This does not mean, however, that there are no limitations whatsoever in the State's Attorney's ability to appoint special assistants. Article 10, section 40 establishes certain limitations on the appointment of deputies and assistants by

the State's Attorneys of the various counties. The number of deputies or assistants the State's Attorney may appoint, their salaries and, in some instances, the method of ...


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