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Szwed v. State

Court of Appeals of Maryland

April 23, 2014

JAMES SZWED
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND

Argued February 6, 2014.

Circuit Court for Prince George's County. Criminal Case No. CT110375X.

Barbera, C.J., Harrell, Battaglia, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Raker, Irma S. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ. Opinion by Greene, J. Battaglia, J., concurs. Adkins, McDonald and Raker, JJ., dissent.

OPINION

Page 1144

[438 Md. 2] Greene, J.

This case involves issues of law similar to our recently consolidated cases in Nalls v. State and Melvin v. State, 437 Md. 674, 89 A.3d 1126 (2014). For the [438 Md. 3] reasons explained in the majority opinion in Nalls & Melvin, and as summarized here, the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals shall be reversed. In this opinion, as we did in Nalls & Melvin, we address a challenge that has arisen since our decision in Valonis & Tyler v. State, 431 Md. 551, 66 A.3d 661 (2013). We reaffirm our holding in Valonis that a trial judge must comply fully with Md. Rule 4-246(b), and that failure to comply is reversible error. We further address whet constitutes a trial judge's valid determination and announcement on the record under Rule 4-246(b), whether a defendant's failure to object precludes appellate review, and the appropriate sanction when a trial judge fails to comply with the waiver requirements.

I. FACTS

The charges against Petitioner James Szwed (" Szwed" ) stemmed from a burglary of a house in Accokeek, Maryland. Szwed was indicted in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, and charged with first, third, and fourth degree burglary, theft over $1000, and malicious destruction of property. At the conclusion of a bench trial, the court found Szwed guilty of all three burglary counts, theft under $1000,

Page 1145

and malicious destruction of property having a value of less than $500. Szwed was sentenced to a term of incarceration of 15 years. Prior to the commencement of the bench trial, the following exchange occurred:

[Defense Counsel]: Mr. Szwed and I have discussed the possibility of a court trial. That is a non-jury trial. Have we not, Mr. Szwed?
[Szwed]: Yes.
[Defense Counsel]: What do you want to do? Do you want the judge to decide your case or a jury?
[Szwed]: The judge.
[The trial judge inquires about Szwed's age, education, and health.]
[438 Md. 4] [Trial Judge]: Your attorney has indicated that you want to elect to be tried by the [c]ourt as ...

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