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State v. Rogers

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 28, 2019

STATE OF MARYLAND
v.
JIMMIE ROGERS

          Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County Case No. C-02-CV-17-000296

          Kehoe, Nazarian, Salmon, James P. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

          Nazarian, J.

         On October 20, 2015, Jimmie Rogers pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County to a single count of human trafficking under Maryland Code § 11-303(a) of the Criminal Law Article ("CR"). Under Maryland Code §§ 11-701(p)(2) and 11-704 of the Criminal Procedure Article ("CP"), Mr. Rogers qualified as a tier II sex offender and was required to register upon release from prison because he was convicted of violating CR § 11-303 and his victim was a minor. Mr. Rogers registered with the Maryland Sex Offender Registry ("MSOR") as instructed on October 4, 2016.

         On January 31, 2017, Mr. Rogers filed a complaint in the circuit court seeking a declaratory judgment that he was not required to register as a sex offender because, he argued, the State had failed to establish that his victim was, in fact, a minor. The State and Mr. Rogers both filed motions for summary judgment-the State contended that there was no factual dispute that the victim was a minor, while Mr. Rogers argued that there was no factual dispute that she wasn't. The circuit court granted Mr. Rogers's motion and entered a declaratory judgment stating that Mr. Rogers's conviction did not require him to register as a sex offender. The State appeals that decision and we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 1, 2015, Mr. Rogers was charged by indictment in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County with five counts of human trafficking a minor victim and two counts of prostitution. At the start of Mr. Rogers's plea hearing five months later, Count Five of the indictment was amended from alleging that he had trafficked a minor victim, citing CR § 11-303(b), to human trafficking generally, citing CR § 11-303(a). Mr. Rogers pleaded guilty to the amended Count Five and the State entered a nolle prosequi on the remaining charges.

         At Mr. Rogers's plea hearing, the State laid out the facts it planned to prove at trial. On April 3, 2015, Maryland State Trooper Heid was searching for a missing young woman, M.H., [1] who was believed to be the victim of human trafficking. In the course of his investigation, Trooper Heid came across a post on Backpage, a website known to him as an advertising hub for sex workers and human trafficking victims.[2] Based on his knowledge and experience in human trafficking investigations, he suspected that the person featured in the post was a human trafficking victim and might be M.H.

         Trooper Heid called the number provided on the Backpage post to set up a meeting with the subject for 9:00 that morning. He suspected that the person he spoke to on the phone was a man attempting to disguise his voice as a woman's. Based on the pictures on Backpage, Trooper Heid believed the victim was at a Red Roof Inn in Linthicum, a hotel he knew was a popular prostitution venue. Trooper Heid and several colleagues surveilled the Red Roof Inn's parking lot and saw Mr. Rogers emerge from a vehicle, enter a motel room, return minutes later, and drive off. Shortly thereafter, Trooper Heid received a phone call from the number he'd found on Backpage. The caller, who had a different voice than the individual to whom he had spoken earlier, instructed him to come to room 333.

         When the police knocked on the door, a young woman, later revealed to be M.H., answered. The officers identified themselves and M.H. explained that her "boss," later identified as Mr. Rogers, had rented the hotel room for her and would be back to check on her soon. She stated that Mr. Rogers had posted her ad on Backpage and that she had, over several days, had sexual intercourse with men for money at Mr. Rogers's direction. M.H. explained that Mr. Rogers set up "dates" for her through Backpage and kept half of the proceeds in exchange for security. It was later revealed that Mr. Rogers had, in fact, been holding all of the proceeds from M.H.'s sex work.

         Mr. Rogers was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment and two years' probation. All but 548 days of Mr. Rogers's imprisonment were suspended and he got credit for 202 days already served. Upon release, he registered as a tier II sex offender, as mandated by CP § 11-704, when a person is convicted under CR § 11-303, and their victim is a minor. See CP § 11-701(p)(2).

         On January 31, 2017, Mr. Rogers filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in the circuit court seeking a declaration that he was not required to register as a sex offender and ordering the State to remove his name from the MSOR. In his motion for summary judgment, he argued that because he had not been convicted under CR §11-303(b), and because the State had failed to produce any evidence that M.H. was a minor, he did not qualify as a tier II sex offender under CP § 11-701(p)(2). Mr. Rogers provided no evidence to support his motion.

         The State filed its own motion for summary judgment and countered that because Mr. Rogers indisputably had been convicted under CR § 11-303 and had never contested M.H.'s minority, the plain language of CP § 11-704 required him to register. The State attached to its motion the affidavit of Allison Gilford, the supervisor and custodian of records for the MSOR, and several documents that purported to demonstrate M.H.'s minority status: (1) Mr. Rogers's Criminal Hearing Sheet indicating he pleaded guilty to Count Five after it was amended to cite CR § 11-303(b) rather than § 11-303(a), (2) the Statement of Charges prepared by Trooper Heid, which indicated repeatedly that M.H. was a minor, and (3) the indictment charging him with five counts of trafficking a minor victim.

         After a hearing, the circuit court granted Mr. Rogers's motion for summary judgment and issued a declaration stating that "Jimmie Rogers is not required to register as a tier II sex offender on the basis of his conviction in State of Maryland vs. Jimmie Junior Rogers, 02-K-15-1039" and that "Defendants State of Maryland and Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services . . . shall remove Mr. Rogers' name from any and all sex offender registries on which it appears as a result of ...


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