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Sibley v. Doe

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

April 28, 2016

MONTGOMERY BLAIR SIBLEY
v.
JOHN DOE, ET AL

Page 884

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. John W. Debelius, JUDGE.

         SUBMITTED BY: Pro Se appellant FOR APPELLANT

         SUBMITTED By: Bradley J. Neitzel (Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General on the brief) of Baltimore, MD. FOR APPELLEE

         ARGUED BEFORE: Krauser, C.J., Berger, Reed, JJ. Opinion by Reed, J.

          OPINION

Page 885

         [227 Md.App. 648] 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 [227 Md.App. 649] 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

Page 886

thereafter, on September 22, 2014, the [227 Md.App. 650] 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 [227 Md.App. 651] 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 re-entry of judgment is appropriate. Their agreement, however, ends here.

Page 887

          According to the appellant, the circuit court erred in the first place where it granted the State's Attorney's Motion to Dismiss. The appellant advances this argument on a variety of grounds. First, the appellant asserts that under Maryland law, the granting of a motion to dismiss is " rarely appropriate in a declaratory judgment action," Broadwater v. State, 303 Md. 461, 465, 494 A.2d 934 (1985), and thus was inappropriate here. Second, the appellant contends that the circuit court should have addressed the fundamental question raised in his Complaint for Declaratory Relief, which was whether the pre-conditions established by the Court of Appeals in Brack v. Wells, 184 Md. 86, 40 A.2d 319 (1944), " improperly impaired [his] Common Law right to directly and in person petition the Grand Jury." Appellant's Br. at 11. Third, the appellant argues the circuit court erred by dismissing the Complaint without addressing issues raised therein that were left unresolved by Brack. These include whether, after he has " exhaust[ed] his remedy before the magistrate and state's attorney," id. at 97, he has the right to present to the foreman in person his request to appear before the Grand Jury, and whether the foreman would thereafter be required to present his request to the body over which he presides. [227 Md.App. 652] Finally, the appellant assigns error to the fact ...


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