Court for Cecil County Case No. 07-K-06-000806
Woodward, C.J., Graeff, Berger, JJ.
Louis Kranz, appellant, was convicted, following a jury trial
in the Circuit Court for Cecil County, of two counts each of
assault in the first degree and reckless endangerment. The
court then sentenced Kranz to a total term of five years'
imprisonment, to be followed by three years' supervised
Kranz filed a petition, under the Maryland Uniform
Postconviction Procedure Act, seeking to vacate his
convictions on the ground that the State had committed a
Brady violation -- that, at the time of his trial,
an Assistant State's Attorney in Cecil County, although
not involved in Kranz's criminal case, was representing
the two victims in that case in a separate civil action
against Kranz, arising out of the same incident, but that
that conflict had not been disclosed to the defense. The
postconviction court ruled that the State had, indeed, failed
to make a required disclosure to Kranz, but it nonetheless
denied his petition on the basis that the State's
nondisclosure was not "material" because it did not
"create a reasonable probability of a different
Kranz filed an application for leave to appeal from that
decision, which this Court granted. It, therefore, appeared
that the issue before us was whether the postconviction court
had erred in concluding that the State's nondisclosure
was not "material" and, concomitantly, whether the
postconviction court had applied the correct materiality
standard under the facts of this case. However,
unbeknownst to the applications panel, sometime after Kranz
had filed his application for leave to appeal but prior to
the granting of that application, Kranz completed serving his
sentence, including the three-year probationary period.
brief, the State has included a motion to dismiss, asserting
that, upon the completion of Kranz's sentence, this Court
was divested of appellate jurisdiction and therefore must
dismiss this appeal. For the reasons that follow, we shall
grant that motion.
quote the memorandum opinion of the postconviction court for
Kranz was convicted of first degree assault and reckless
endangerment by a jury in the Circuit Court for Cecil County,
for shooting victims Brandi Schaffer and George McSwain when
they were accidentally driving on his property. After his
conviction, but before sentencing, Kranz learned that Ms.
Schaffer and Mr. McSwain had filed a civil suit against him
over the same incident. They were seeking damages in excess
of one million dollars. They obtained Kevin Urick as counsel
in the civil suit.
Mr. Urick (hereafter ASA Urick) serves as a full time
[A]ssistant [S]tate's [A]ttorney while also maintaining a
private practice. As an ASA, Mr. Urick worked under the
State's Attorney, Christopher Eastridge: the prosecuting
attorney in Mr. Kranz's criminal trial. ASA Urick was in
no way involved in the criminal prosecution of Mr. Kranz and
had no contact with Mr. Eastridge regarding preparation for
the case. However, Mr. Eastridge was aware of ASA Urick's
representation of Ms. Schaffer and Mr. McSwain in the civil
suit and at no time disclosed this information to Mr. Kranz
nor to his attorney.
Mr. Kranz's criminal trial may reasonably be considered
close as he was tried twice as a result of a hung jury in his
first trial. In the latter trial the [S]tate's case
was put on primarily by use of circumstantial evidence as the
[S]tate was not able to present any direct evidence against
Mr. Kranz. Likewise, victims Ms. Schaffer and Mr. McSwain
were the [S]tate's key witnesses. The record states that
neither Ms. Schaffer nor Mr. McSwain could positively
identify Mr. Kranz as the shooter and instead could only
testify as to seeing a shadowy figure immediately prior to
the shots being fired. Mr. Kranz's trial counsel
cross-examined both witnesses but ultimately was unsuccessful
in persuading the jury to find in favor of Mr. Kranz.
After the jury's verdict but prior to being sentenced,
Mr. Kranz was notified of the civil suit filed against him by
Ms. Schaffer and Mr. McSwain. Subsequently, he notified his
trial counsel of the information. Prior to sentencing defense
counsel filed a motion for new trial that did not include
claims regarding a Brady violation by the [S]tate
for failing to disclose ASA Urick's representation of Ms.
Schaffer and Mr. McSwain in the civil suit. The trial court
denied this motion. Mr. Kranz filed an appeal on August 17,
On September 23, 2009 another motion for new trial was filed.
A hearing for this new trial motion was held on December 11,
2009 before Judge Kahl. This motion was denied. Subsequently,
the Court of Special Appeals issued Judge Moylan's
unreported opinion on November 9, 2010 affirming ...