[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
from the Circuit Court for Howard County, William Tucker,
BY Benjamin M. Miller (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender on
the brief) all of Baltimore, MD FOR APPELLANT.
BY Todd W. Hesel (Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General on the
brief) all of Baltimore, MD FOR APPELLEE.
Krauser, C.J., Wright, Arthur, JJ.
Md.App. 322] Arthur, J.
appeal concerns whether a deaf criminal defendant has the
constitutional right to confront the interpreter who
interpreted his statements during a police interrogation,
when the State offers those interpretations as evidence
against him in a criminal prosecution.
Cepheus Taylor III, who is deaf, was arrested on the
allegation that he had sexually abused minors. With the [226
Md.App. 323] aid of sign-language interpreters, detectives
interrogated him for almost five hours. Over Taylor's
objection at trial, the court admitted a recording that
included audio of an interpreter's English-language
interpretations of Taylor's sign-language statements. A
jury found Taylor guilty of abusing two of the seven
among the issues raised in this appeal, Taylor contends that
under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct.
1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004), the admission of the
interpreter's statements violated his constitutional
right to be confronted with the witnesses against him. His
contention is correct, and the judgments must be reversed.
and Procedural Background
Taylor's Supervisory Role at the Maryland School for the
was born without the ability to hear. He communicates
primarily through American Sign Language (ASL). He can read
and write in English, but he does not speak English or
understand spoken English.
2001, Taylor began working as a Student Life Counselor at the
Columbia campus of the Maryland School for the Deaf. The
Columbia campus, which serves students from pre-kindergarten
through eighth grade, provides a residential dormitory to
accommodate students who live far away from the facility.
Taylor typically supervised groups of five or six male
students in the afternoons and evenings. He later took on
additional responsibilities as an after-school coordinator
and basketball coach for both boys and girls.
employment came to an end in the fall of 2012. In November of
that year, the School received a report from four female
students, De., M., P., and S., who claimed that Taylor had
touched them inappropriately at the Columbia campus between
2008 and 2011. The School placed Taylor on forced leave and
reported the accusations to the Howard County police.
Md.App. 324] B. Criminal Investigation by Howard
Penelope Camp served as lead investigator. Based on the
results of her interviews of three students, she arrested
Taylor and brought him to the police station for questioning
on December 6, 2012.
The nearly five-hour interrogation was recorded by video
cameras and microphones.
Detective Camp is unable to use or understand sign language,
she arranged for a team of two interpreters to facilitate the
questioning: Mr. Joe L. Smith, an ASL interpreter who could
hear the detective's questions; and Ms. Charm Smith, a
Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) who could not hear the
questions. The detective asked questions in English, which
the interpreters conveyed to Taylor through sign language;
Taylor responded in sign language; the two interpreters
converted his responses into English; and then Mr. Smith
provided his spoken English interpretations of what Taylor
had said in sign language. This collaborative interpretation
process is known as relay interpretation or intermediary
interpretation. State v. Wright, 2009 SD 51, 768
N.W.2d 512, 518 n.2 (S.D. 2009) (citing Linton v.
State, 275 S.W.3d 493, 510 (Tex.Crim.App. 2009)
(Johnson, J., concurring)); see also Vasquez v.
Kirkland, 572 F.3d 1029, 1032-33 (9th Cir.
the interpreters, Detective Camp informed Taylor that he had
" the right to remain silent," that " anything
[he] sa[id] may be used against [him]," and that he had
the right to have an attorney present. Taylor briefly
inquired about the meaning of " the right of getting a
counsel." Taylor then read and signed a written
Miranda waiver form, indicating that he understood
and voluntarily waived those rights.
Md.App. 325] Detective Camp told Taylor that his arrest was
related to his conduct in his former role as a dorm counselor
at the Maryland School for the Deaf. The detective stated
that multiple students had accused Taylor of touching their
breasts or buttocks on numerous occasions, of kissing them,
and of exchanging intimate text messages with them. Before
the detective had provided the names of the accusers, Taylor
brought up students named Da., S., and M., two of whom were
among the initial complainants. Later, the detective asked
specific questions about De. and P.
the interpreter, Taylor at first denied making any
inappropriate physical contact with students. He stated that
he may have made accidental contact with someone in the
school hallways, which he described as crowded and narrow at
certain points. He also stated that he would sometimes greet
students with a handshake combined with a hug and that it was
possible that his hand could have brushed against a
person's chest. He admitted that he had exchanged text
messages with a number of students and that some female
students had sent him revealing photographs.
to the interpreter's account of Taylor's statements,
Taylor also stated that on specific instances he had
accidentally touched particular girls. For example, according
to the interpreter, Taylor admitted that he actually had
touched Da. on the buttocks, but that he had done so by
accident and had immediately apologized to her. In another
instance, the interpreter reported that Taylor gave this
response to questions about touching De.'s breast: "
Right, I mean, maybe it was the brushing like everything else
but it wasn't an intentional touch or anything. It was
accidental. It wasn't, maybe it wasn't a complete
hug." At trial and on appeal,
Taylor has contested the accuracy of the interpreter's
assertion that he admitted to specific incidents of
inappropriate touching: he contends that he never admitted to
having actually touched any of the young women's breasts
or buttocks, but merely to have stated that if he
had done so, it would have been an accident, for which he
would have apologized.
Md.App. 326] At the detective's request, Taylor handwrote
five short letters of apology addressed to Da., De., M., P.,
and S. Each letter expressed remorse and asked for
forgiveness without describing any of Taylor's actual
conduct. For instance, in his letter to Da., Taylor wrote:
" I said really am sorry about you. I know that you
dislike talk to me. I said so sorry about it situation. I
wonder you can forgive me no matter what! . . . I want to say
to you 'Sorry'!"
finished writing, Taylor, through the interpreters, asked:
" I wanted to know is the lawyer going to be coming to
meet with me or can I ask for a lawyer now?" At that
point, Detective Camp ended the questioning.
January 16, 2013, the State filed seven indictments against
Taylor. Each indictment corresponded to one of seven
complainants: Da., De., K., M., P., S., and T. The State
charged Taylor with one count of sexual abuse of a minor for
each of the minors. See Md. Code (2001, 2012 Repl.
Vol.), Criminal Law Art., § 3-602(b)(1) ( " A . . .
person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or
responsibility for the supervision of a minor may not cause
sexual abuse to the minor" ); id. §
3-602(a)(4)(i) ( " 'Sexual abuse' means an act
that involves sexual molestation or exploitation of a minor,
whether physical injuries are sustained or not" ). The
State also charged Taylor with four counts of solicitation of
child pornography. Id. § 11-207(a).
Taylor's defense counsel first entered his appearance, he
filed a generic " Omnibus Pre-Trial Defense Motion"
that included a comprehensive list of unspecific and
unsupported requests for relief. The State arranged for the
detectives and the two sign-language interpreters from the
interrogation to testify at the motions hearing. After the
hearing was postponed for cause, however, Taylor's
attorney failed to appear [226 Md.App. 327] on the
rescheduled hearing date. An attorney with no knowledge of
the case appeared for the sole purpose of requesting a
postponement. After the court declined to postpone the
hearing, the attorney withdrew all of Taylor's pre-trial
court then denied a written motion for another hearing on the
issue of whether Taylor's statements to police should be
suppressed. Taylor later filed a motion to sever, which the
court also denied after a hearing.
The State's Case Against Taylor
trial on all charges against Taylor commenced on October 28,
2013, and continued for nearly three weeks. Because the
defendant and many of the witnesses are deaf, much of the
testimony was communicated through court-appointed
female students themselves were the primary witnesses against
Taylor. Each of the seven students testified about specific
instances of Taylor's inappropriate touching while they
were under his supervision. According to many of the
State's witnesses, Taylor used handshakes and hugs that
are similar to other greetings commonly used at the Maryland
School for the Deaf. While none of the witnesses disputed
that touching plays an important role in communication among
the deaf community, particularly for greetings or to get a
person's attention, the students claimed that Taylor
performed the embraces in an unusual manner.
other main source of evidence against Taylor was the
recording of Taylor's interrogation. The recording
included video of the sign-language communications between
Taylor and the interpreters, as well as audio of the
statements by the [226 Md.App. 328] ASL interpreter, Mr.
Smith, interpreting what Taylor had said in sign language.
The State called Detective Camp to establish a foundation for
admitting the recording with an accompanying transcript.
objected to the admission of the interpreter's words
through the detective's testimony. He requested that the
State call the interpreter, Mr. Smith, to verify his
interpretations of what Taylor had told him. His counsel
argued that " based on the Confrontation Clause"
Taylor had the right to " confront the person who is
saying these things" on the recording and to
cross-examine " Mr. Joe Smith, as an interpreter
interpreting what [Taylor] is saying." After commenting
briefly that an interpreter was " not an accuser,"
the court overruled the objection. The detective then
testified about some of the things that Taylor "
said" to her in the interrogation even though she heard
his words only as reported or interpreted by Smith.
renewed his objection immediately before the State attempted
to play the recording for the jurors. At that point, defense
counsel asked the court to direct one of the sworn court
interpreters to give a live interpretation of Taylor's
sign-language responses, rather than permit the jury to hear
the account of an absent witness, Smith, about what Taylor
had said. The defense also asked " to put on the
record" that in United States v. Charles, 722
F.3d 1319 (11th Cir. 2013), the United States Court of
Appeals held that a defendant has the right to cross-examine
an interpreter who interpreted the defendant's statements
in a police interrogation. The court overruled the renewed
court then permitted the State to play the nearly five-hour
recording. The State provided jurors with an audio transcript
that Detective Camp had prepared. The first page noted that
" throughout the interview, all statements attributed to
both Clarence Taylor and [Certified Deaf Interpreter] Charm
Smith are as interpreted through Joe Smith." The jurors
received copies of the transcript with a cautionary [226
Md.App. 329] instruction that they should consider only the
video and audio as evidence.
Taylor's Defense and the Conclusion of Trial
took the stand as the only witness in his defense. He denied
any inappropriate touching of students. He testified
that he could accidentally have made contact with a
student's breasts or buttocks, but that he would have
apologized if he had done so.
respect to the statements attributed to him by the
interpreter, Taylor repeatedly asserted that there were many
" misinterpretations" and "
miscommunications" between him and the interpreters.
Taylor claimed that he had difficulty communicating with
Smith at the beginning of the interview and that he had asked
to have an attorney present during questioning. Taylor also
claimed that he had never admitted during the interrogation
to any specific instance of physical contact with a student.
following exchange occurred during the State's
cross-examination of Taylor:
Q: [D]uring your interview with [Detective Camp], you stated
several times that you did touch these girls but it was an
A: Well, let me clarify that first. There's some
misunderstandings in that video. What I said is that it could
have happened and if it did, it would have been an accident.
I said it could have happened.
prosecutor asked Taylor to explain specific portions from the
transcript in which the interpreter said that Taylor had said
that he had apologized to specific students after
accidentally touching them. Taylor consistently responded
that the interpreter had not correctly interpreted his
sign-language [226 Md.App. 330] statements. He testified that
he told the interpreters that, if he had touched
anyone, it would have been an accident, and he would have
closing argument, the State encouraged the jury to "
[r]eally analyze th[e] interview." The prosecutor argued
that the jury should conclude that Taylor voluntarily made
all of the statements attributed to him by the
interpreter." She further contended that Taylor's
assertions that the interpreters made errors were not
credible. Although the prosecutor encouraged the jury to
disbelieve many portions of Taylor's responses from the
interrogation, she pointed out that " finally towards
the end of [the interview], he acknowledge[d] what he
did," when the interpreter reported Taylor as admitting
that he had touched the students, but claimed to have done so
its closing argument, the defense asked the jurors to
remember that they " never heard from the actual
interpreter." The State objected, and the court
sustained that objection. Defense counsel then commented
that, in assessing the weight of the interpreted statements,
the jury should consider that the interpreter had been paid
by the police. The State then raised an " ongoing
objection to any mention of the interpreters during that
interview." The court sustained the objection once
again, asserting that it was " not relevant" that
the interpreter had been solicited by the police. The judge
then instructed the jury that it could not consider "
the last two comments [from defense counsel] concerning the
several days of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict as
to three of the seven charges. The jury found Taylor guilty
of sexually abusing two victims: Da. and De. The jury
acquitted Taylor of the sexual abuse charge related to K. The
jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the remaining counts
for sexual abuse of P., M., S., or T.
court denied Taylor's motion for new trial and sentenced
him on January 31, 2013. The court imposed two consecutive
sentences of 15 years of imprisonment, with all [226 Md.App.
331] but three-and-a-half years of each sentence suspended,
for a total term of
seven years of incarceration. Taylor took a timely appeal
from those judgments.
now presents the following questions to this Court:
1. Was [Taylor's] constitutional right to confrontation
violated when he was not given the opportunity to
cross[-]examine the interpreter used by the police during his
2. Did the trial court err in denying [Taylor's] requests
for postponement and to reschedule a hearing on his motion to
3. Did the trial court err in joining the seven charges
against [Taylor] into one trial?
4. Did the trial court err in refusing to permit [Taylor] to
cross-examine the victims' parents about their pursuit of
a civil suit?
5. Did the trial court err in denying [Taylor's] requests
to subpoena witnesses?
the first question, we conclude that the trial court
committed reversible error when it admitted the
interpreter's extrajudicial account of Taylor's
statements after Taylor had asserted his rights under the
Confrontation Clause. We shall address the remaining issues
to the extent that they are likely to recur at Taylor's
contends that the trial court erred when it admitted
Smith's English-language interpretations of Taylor's
sign-language statements. According to Taylor, the admission
of the interpreted statements, under circumstances where he
had no opportunity to cross-examine the interpreter during
the State's case against him, violated his constitutional
right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.
Md.App. 332] We review the ultimate question of whether the
admission of evidence violated a defendant's
constitutional rights without deference to the trial
court's ruling. See Hailes v. State,
442 Md. 488, 506, 113 A.3d 608 (2015) (applying de novo
standard of review to appeal based on Confrontation Clause).
Constitutional Right of Confrontation in Criminal
Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
" In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy
the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses against
him[.]" In this context, confrontation means more than
simply a face-to-face meeting between accusers and the
accused. Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 315, 94
S.Ct. 1105, 39 L.Ed.2d 347 (1974). The " main and
essential purpose" of the Confrontation Clause is to
ensure that the defendant has an opportunity for effective
cross-examination of adverse witnesses, " which cannot
be had except by the direct and personal putting of questions
and obtaining immediate answers." Id. at 315-16
(citations and quotation marks omitted). During an in-person
cross-examination, " the accused has an opportunity, not
only of testing the recollection and sifting the conscience
of witnesses, but of compelling him to stand face to face
with the jury in order that they may look at him, and judge
his demeanor upon the stand and in the manner in which he
gives his testimony whether he is worthy of belief."
Mattox v. United States, 156 U.S. 237, 242-43, 15
S.Ct. 337, 39 L.Ed. 409 (1895).
Because the safeguard of cross-examination is essential to a
fair trial, the right of confrontation is a fundamental
right that applies during state as well as federal
prosecutions. Pointer v. Texas, 380 U.S. 400, 403,
85 S.Ct. 1065, 13 L.Ed.2d 923 (1965).
Maryland, the constitutional right of confrontation predates
the federal Constitution. Article XIX of the Maryland
Declaration of Rights of 1776 declared that " in all
criminal prosecutions, every man hath a right . . . to be
confronted [226 Md.App. 333] with the witnesses against him
. . . [and] to examine the witnesses for and against him on
oath[.]" Identical language is currently embodied in
Article 21 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.
Maryland's confrontation right is interpreted to "
generally provid[e] the same protection to defendants"
as its federal counterpart. Derr v. State, 434 Md.
88, 103, 73 A.3d 254 & n.11 (2013) (citations omitted),
cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 2723, 189 L.Ed.2d 762
(2014); see Cooper v. State, 434 Md. 209,
232, 73 A.3d 1108 (2013).
dual confrontation clauses of the Bill of Rights and the
Maryland Declaration of Rights focus upon a singular category
of persons: the " witnesses against" a defendant.
This group naturally includes the persons formally called by
the State to testify against the defendant at trial. The text
of these provisions, however, does not indicate the extent to
which a prosecutor may introduce the out-of-court statements
of persons who do not testify in the prosecution's case
landmark case of Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S.
36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004), the Supreme Court
redefined many of the core principles for evaluating whether
a criminal defendant has the right to require the prosecution
to produce the declarants of extrajudicial statements so that
the defendant can confront and cross-examine them. Our
analysis begins with Crawford, the opinion that
essentially " 'rewrote confrontation clause
analysis.'" State v. Norton, 443 Md. 517,
524 n.8, 117 A.3d 1055 (2015) (quoting 6A Lynn McLain,
Maryland Evidence: State and Federal § 800:5
(3d ed. 2013)).
defendant in that case, Michael Crawford, stabbed a man.
Crawford, 541 U.S. at 38. Crawford's wife,
Sylvia, witnessed the stabbing. Id. At trial,
Crawford's wife did not testify, " because of the
state marital privilege, which generally bars a spouse from
testifying without the other spouse's consent."
Id. at 40. The trial court nevertheless allowed the
State to introduce a recording of statements from a police
interrogation, in which Sylvia Crawford arguably undermined
her husband's claim of self-defense. Id. The
Supreme Court ultimately determined that [226 Md.App. 334]
the use of Ms. Crawford's statements at Crawford's
trial, where Crawford had no opportunity to cross-examine
her, violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause.
Id. at 68-69.
opinion by Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court looked to the
historical background of the Confrontation Clause in an
effort to understand its meaning. Id. at 43.
According to the Court, the Confrontation Clause emerged out
of the response to controversial criminal trial practices in
England and in the American colonies that departed from
" [t]he common-law tradition . . . of live testimony in
court subject to adversarial testing[.]" Id.
(citing 3 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of
England 373-74 (1768)). During the sixteenth,
seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, criminal tribunals
sometimes admitted transcripts from pretrial examinations, in
which witnesses had been questioned in private by judicial
officers. Crawford, 541 U.S. at 43-48. "
Through a series of statutory and judicial reforms,
English law developed a right of confrontation that limited
these abuses." Id. at 44. Declarations of
rights adopted by Maryland and other states, and eventually
the federal Bill of Rights, guaranteed a confrontation right
to secure this common-law safeguard. Id. at 48-49.
this history, the Court inferred that " the principal
evil at which the Confrontation Clause was directed was the
civil-law mode of criminal procedure, and particularly its
use of ex parte examinations as evidence against the
accused." Id. at 50. The Court then construed
the Clause's text in light of that historical purpose:
The text of the Confrontation Clause reflects this focus. It
applies to " witnesses" against the accused -- in
other words, those who " bear testimony." 2 N.
Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language
(1828). " Testimony," in turn, is typically "
[a] solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of
establishing or proving some fact." Ibid. An
accuser who makes a formal statement to government officers
bears testimony in a sense that a person who [226 Md.App.
335] makes a casual remark to an acquaintance does not. The
constitutional text, like the history underlying the