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Vaughn v. State

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

April 26, 2017

MICHAEL VAUGHN
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND

          Krauser, C. J., Berger, Salmon, James P., (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned) JJ.

          OPINION

          Salmon, J.

         The Maryland Court of Appeals, in Skok v. State, 361 Md. 52 (2000), made a significant change in the Maryland common law in regards to the circumstances under which a convict could overturn his or her conviction by filing a writ of error coram nobis. Id. at 70, 77. Relying on the reasoning set forth in United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502 (1954) (announcing law to be applied in federal courts), the Skok Court held that a change in the common law governing coram nobis relief was justified due to "contemporary conditions and public policy." Id. at 77. The Court, 361 Md. at 78-79, listed five conditions a defendant must meet in order to obtain coram nobis relief. One of those conditions was that a "coram nobis petitioner must be suffering or facing significant collateral consequences from the conviction." Id. at 79.

         In the case sub judice, the appellant, Michael Vaughn, pled guilty in 2004, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, to a third-degree sex offense pursuant to an agreement with the prosecutor and the circuit court judge that accepted the plea. Before he pled guilty, Vaughn was told, inter alia, that if the plea was accepted he would be required to register as a sex offender "as required by law."

         The circuit court sentenced Vaughn to five years' imprisonment, all suspended in favor of three years' probation. As promised, Vaughn was ordered to register as a sex offender and, as a condition of probation he was required to receive sex counseling and to stay away from the victim.

         Mr. Vaughn took no action for over eleven years. He then filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The collateral consequence he relies upon in support of his petition is that he has been required to register as a sex offender. The issue that we are called upon to resolve is whether the aforementioned "collateral consequences" is sufficient to meet one of the five conditions required for coram nobis relief.

         We shall hold that such a "collateral consequence" is not sufficient to allow coram nobis relief because, as Skok made clear, the reason for changing the common law was to give a possible avenue of relief to criminal defendants who could allege significant collateral consequences arising from the conviction that were, from the defendant's point of view, unexpected at the time the guilty verdict was entered. Id. at 77.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Vaughn was 21 years old in July 2003 and lived at 2416 Marbourne Avenue, Apt. 3-C, in Baltimore City. The victim of the crime to which Mr. Vaughn pleaded guilty was "MJ", who, in 2003, was twelve years old. Mr. Vaughn knew her age at all times here relevant.

         Police arrived at Mr. Vaughn's apartment on July 21, 2003, while Mr. Vaughn and the victim were still present. MJ told an investigating police officer that she had had vaginal intercourse with Mr. Vaughn on the evening of July 20 and again in the morning hours of July 21, 2003. As a result of MJ's allegations, Mr. Vaughn was charged in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City with second-degree rape, third-degree sex offense, fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault.

         On March 15, 2004, Mr. Vaughn appeared in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. At the commencement of the proceedings, the prosecutor placed on the record the plea agreement that the State had entered into with the defendant and his counsel, viz.:

[T]he agreement would be that the [d]efendant plead guilty to a third-degree sex offense, receive a five year - a sentence of five years suspended, three years' probation, stay away from the victim, [MJ]. Register as a sex offender as required by law. Have sex offender counseling. And that's it.

         Appellant's counsel then explained to Mr. Vaughn some of the rights he was giving up by entering a guilty plea. Defense counsel did not, however, explain to Mr. Vaughn, on the record, what the State would need to prove in order to convict him of a third-degree sex offense.

         After the factual predicate for the guilty plea was placed on the record, the circuit court, on the same day that the plea was accepted, sentenced appellant in accordance with the plea agreement. As mentioned, as part of that agreement, appellant was required to register as a sex offender. In 2004, a person convicted of a third-degree ...


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