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Sibley v. Doe

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

April 28, 2016

MONTGOMERY BLAIR SIBLEY
v.
JOHN DOE, ET AL.

Krauser, C.J., Berger, Reed, JJ.

OPINION

Reed, J.

Montgomery Blair Sibley, the appellant, petitioned the Circuit Court for Montgomery County for a declaratory judgment that he has a right to appear in person before the Grand Jury to present evidence that the President of the United States is violating Maryland criminal law by possessing, displaying, and/or representing to be his own "a fictitious or fraudulently altered government identification document." Md. Code (2002, 2012 Repl. Vol.), Crim. Law ("CL") § 8-303(b). The circuit court, however, refused to enter such a declaratory judgment. Subsequently, the appellant filed this timely pro se appeal. He presents five questions for our review, which we have reduced to two and rephrased:[1]

1. Did the circuit court err where it dismissed the appellant's Complaint for Declaratory Relief without making a written declaration of the parties' rights?
2. Did the circuit court commit an abuse of discretion where it denied the appellant's motions for recusal and pre-service discovery?

For the following reasons, we answer the first question in the affirmative and the second in the negative. Therefore, we shall vacate the judgment below and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Factual And Procedural Background

On September 13, 2014, the appellant wrote the Honorable John W. Debelius III requesting that he "issue a warrant for the arrest of [President] Barack Hussein Obama" for violating CL § 8-303.[2] Shortly thereafter, on September 22, 2014, the appellant also wrote the Assistant State's Attorney for Montgomery County requesting permission to appear in person before the Grand Jury to present evidence of President Obama's aforementioned alleged violations of Maryland criminal law. The Assistant State's Attorney responded to the appellant by letter dated September 25, 2014. He indicated that "[t]he Grand Jury for Montgomery County, Maryland has considered your request that an investigation be opened into whether documents relating to President Obama's eligibility for office are fraudulent . . . [and] declines to investigate this matter." The letter was co-signed by the foreman of the Grand Jury; however, the foreman's signature was illegible.

On October 6, 2014, the appellant filed a Complaint for Declaratory Relief against John Doe, foreman of the Montgomery County Grand Jury. Also on October 6, 2014, the appellant filed a motion to conduct pre-service discovery and a motion to expedite the hearing. Both of these motions were denied by Judge Debelius on October 20, 2014. Therefore, on November 6, 2014, the appellant filed "Verified Emergency Motions to (I) Disqualify the Honorable John W. Debelius III, and (II) Reconsider Orders Denying Motions to Conduct Pre-Service Discovery and to Expedite." The appellant based his motion to disqualify Judge Debelius on the fact that he had previously sent him a letter requesting a warrant for President Obama's arrest, thus making him a witness to the action. Judge Debelius, by Order dated November 6, 2014, denied both the motion to disqualify and the motion for reconsideration.

On December 2, 2014, the State's Attorney for Montgomery County filed a Motion to Intervene and a Motion to Dismiss. On December 19, 2014, Judge Debelius granted the Motion to Intervene, ordering that the State's Attorney be added as a defendant. A hearing on the State's Attorney's Motion to Dismiss was held before the Honorable Michael D. Mason on January 22, 2014. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Mason orally granted the Motion to Dismiss subject to the appellant filing an amended complaint. Judge Mason followed up his oral ruling with a written Order of Dismissal dated February 3, 2015. Before that, on January 27, 2015, the appellant filed an Amended Complaint along with a Motion to Alter or Amend the January 22, 2014, Order of Dismissal. Judge Mason denied the Motion to Alter or Amend on May 11, 2015. Four days later, the appellant timely noted this appeal.

Discussion

I. Dismissal of Complaint for Declaratory Relief

A. The Contentions of the Parties

The parties agree that in granting the Motion to Dismiss the Complaint for Declaratory Relief, the circuit court failed to discharge its duty to make a written declaration of the appellant's rights. Therefore, the parties concur that at the very least a procedural remand for ...


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