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Hall v. State

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

September 10, 2013

RICKEY HALL
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND

Matricciani, Hotten, Davis, Arrie, W. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

OPINION

Matricciani, J.

Rickey Hall, appellant, was indicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for possessing a regulated firearm after having been previously convicted of a disqualifying crime; wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun; and wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun in a vehicle. After a jury trial, appellant was convicted of the possession charge and acquitted of knowingly wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun in a vehicle. The court declared a mistrial as to the wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun charge. Appellant was sentenced to five years of incarceration. He then noted this timely appeal.

Questions Presented

Appellant presents the following questions, which we have consolidated and rephrased to facilitate review:[1]

I. Did the trial court err in giving an Allen-type[2] instruction which did not strictly conform to the pattern "duty to deliberate" instruction and by conferring with a juror who, during polling, indicated that she did not agree with the foreperson's announced verdict for Count Two?
II. Did the trial court err in limiting cross-examination of a police officer concerning other persons having been charged with possession of the handgun at issue in this trial?

For the reasons that follow, we answer no to both questions and affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

Factual and Procedural History

On March 23, 2010, Detectives Gary Schaekel and Frank Friend, Jr., [3] of the Baltimore City Police Department, were patrolling the Wildwood area of Baltimore City in a marked police vehicle. The detectives spotted a maroon Buick that failed to display a Maryland license plate on the front end of the vehicle. They engaged the lights and sirens of their police vehicle and followed the Buick, but the Buick did not stop. After further pursuit, and with the assistance of other officers in the area, Detectives Schaekel and Friend were eventually able to stop the Buick.

There were three occupants in the Buick: a driver, a front passenger, and appellant, the rear passenger. Upon stopping the Buick, Detective Friend jumped out of the police vehicle with his gun drawn. When Detective Friend approached the Buick on the passenger side, he could observe appellant through the windshield. Appellant reached into his waistband, pulled his arm out, and then leaned forward as if to put something on the floor. Detective Friend then walked around to the driver's side of the vehicle, opened the rear door, and observed appellant kicking something. Detective Friend looked down and noticed the barrel of a gun. Detective Friend arrested appellant. The detectives did not find any other weapons or contraband in the vehicle or on any of the individuals. The detectives learned later that the gun found in the car did not belong to appellant or anyone else in the car.

As noted above, appellant was charged with several firearm offenses, and he was tried before a jury in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. At trial, during the cross-examination of Detective Schaekel, defense counsel attempted to question Detective Schaekel about charges against the other two individuals who had been in the car during the stop. Appellant attempted to establish that both of these individuals may have been charged with possession of the same handgun at issue in the present case. Although defense counsel was successful in asking whether the driver of the car, Dontate Anderson, had been charged, the court precluded, upon the State's objection, any further questioning related to charges against these individuals:

[ DEFENSE COUNSEL]: And in that arrest, case disposition report, you indicate that there's been a handgun violation with respect to Mr. Anderson, correct?
DETECTIVE SCHAEKEL: Correct.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: And as a matter of fact, Mr. Anderson was charged with that handgun, correct?
DETECTIVE SCHAEKEL: Correct.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: And Mr. Anderson was indicted --
THE STATE: Objection.
THE COURT: Sustained.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Well, was there a time when Mr. Anderson was Mr. Hall's co-defendant?
THE STATE: Objection.
THE COURT: Why are we talking about cases not in the courtroom? The jury is sitting here patiently for this case. Can't wait for it to get back to it.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: I - -
THE COURT: Objection is sustained.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Okay. Now with respect to - -
THE COURT: And the jury is instructed to disregard any reference to that testimony or those references made by Counsel, because they are absolutely not part of this case and I don't have any idea what they're about. And so, therefore, we do not encourage them to be mixing in with cases that we do know about, which is this one. Moving right along.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: With respect to Defense Exhibit for ID purposes, for No. 4, who does that relate to?
DETECTIVE SCHAEKEL: Anthony Stevenson.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: And he was - -
THE COURT: Are we - - do you want to come up here? I mean, are we going to have this repeated one after the other?
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Of course we are, Your Honor. They're relevant.
THE COURT: Well, why don't I just put it on tape and I'll ...

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