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Campbell v. State

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

December 18, 2019


          Circuit Court for Montgomery County Case No. 131730

          Berger, Leahy, Shaw Geter, JJ.


          BERGER, J.

         A jury, in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, convicted Sebastian Campbell, appellant, of two counts of sex abuse of a minor and four counts of second-degree rape. The Court sentenced appellant to a total term of 130 years' imprisonment. In this appeal, appellant presents several questions for our review, which we have rephrased and renumbered for clarity. They are as follows:

1. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in permitting courtroom security personnel to be positioned near appellant during certain portions of his trial.
2. Whether the trial court violated appellant's constitutional rights in ruling that appellant, who was representing himself at trial, was not entitled to funding from the Office of the Public Defender to pay for an expert witness.
3. With respect to two recorded statements made by the victim, whether the trial court erred in requiring appellant to prove the admissibility of the two recordings before agreeing to provide him with audio/visual equipment to play the recordings for the jury; in refusing to allow him to play one of the recordings in its entirety for the jury; and in giving the jury the option of reviewing the other recording during deliberations rather than publishing that recording during the evidentiary portion of trial.
4. Whether the trial court erred in restricting appellant's cross-examination of the victim regarding a letter the victim had written in which she claimed that another individual had molested her.
5. Whether the trial court erred in restricting appellant's cross-examination of the victim regarding the victim's past sexual conduct.
6. Whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury that evidence included "testimony from the witness stand"
where appellant had testified from the lawyer's table and not the witness stand.

         For reasons to follow, we hold that several of the issues raised by appellant were not preserved for our review. As to the issues that were preserved, we hold that the trial court did not err. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the circuit court.


         Appellant was arrested and charged after it was alleged that he had sexually abused his daughter (the "victim"). At trial, the victim testified that, in February of 2012, when she was 11-years-old and living with her mother in Michigan, she came to Maryland to live with appellant at his Rockville apartment. Approximately one month later, while the victim was asleep on the couch at his apartment, appellant pulled the victim's pants down and had vaginal intercourse with her against her will. In the months that followed, appellant engaged in non-consensual sexual intercourse with the victim "at least twice a week." At some point, the victim became pregnant with appellant's child, and, in August of 2013, the victim gave birth. Additional facts will be supplied below.



         Appellant's first claim of error concerns the trial court's handling of courtroom security. At the start of trial, but prior to jury selection, the court discussed several procedural matters with the State and appellant, who at the time was representing himself. During that discussion, the court addressed appellant regarding courtroom security:

THE COURT: The next issue Mr. Campbell that I want to take up now so that we are all clear how that's going to be handled is you are in custody so each time you come up to the bench, and we're in this Courtroom to pick the jury, we're going to be going back to my Courtroom for the trial but each time you come up to the bench, there is going to be a deputy standing behind you so I want you to know that. They will take great effort to make sure that it's not in any disruptive fashion but that is sheriff's protocol and they're going to follow [their] protocol. When it comes to the time of the trial, as you know, there will be witnesses or a witness will be called one at a time by the State as the moving party, the witness will be in the witness stand and they will have the ability to ask questions, show exhibits and conduct themselves in that fashion and will be moving around the Courtroom. You have two options Mr. Campbell with regard to your positioning is the term I'm going to use during any examination of a witness, whether it's in cross examination or if you choose to call any witnesses of your own. You can number one, you can stay seated and then the deputies will stay seated, that's option one. Option two is you can approach a witness if you would like with the knowledge and understanding that there will be a deputy next to you at all times. Again in the same least [] invasive way they have but that is a security issue, so it's one or the other. So which way would you prefer to handle -
[APPELLANT]: Oh, I don't mind the deputies, they can -
THE COURT: Okay, so I want to be sure we're clear. You would like to get up and approach the witness if need be. You'd stay seated otherwise but if the need arises to get up, you would approach the witness stand with the full understanding that a deputy will be standing next to you.
[APPELLANT]: All right.

         Following that exchange, the court took a five-minute recess. When the parties returned to court, the following exchange occurred:

[APPELLANT]: How close are the deputies going to be to me? I don't understand. I mean, you didn't really give me a proximity.
THE COURT: I don't have that proximity. They're going to probably . . . be in the proximity you see them right now. They're going to follow their protocol and they're going to -
[APPELLANT]: I'm just concerned that it's, is that going to give the jury the impression that I'm in custody? It's -
THE COURT: Well, there's not going to be any reference whatsoever to the fact that you're in custody at all. In fact, I'm glad you brought that up because there will be no reference by anybody that you are in custody, and each time we take a break the jury will be excused from the courtroom. Before anybody takes one step towards moving anywhere, that will be at my direction and my direction only. Is everybody clear on that?
[STATE]: Thank you, Your Honor.
THE COURT: And so, are you clear on that?
THE COURT: Okay. So, what will happen is when you get up to move, they're going to quietly move behind you because that's their job. So, I can't tell you is it going to be 10 inches, 18 inches. They're going to be in enough distance that they follow their protocol for security, okay?
[APPELLANT]: Because I -
THE COURT: That's the best I can tell you. That's why I'm telling you, you have two options, remain seated and they'll remain seated but if you feel the need to move around the courtroom, you'll do so with the deputy at a distance that allows them to maintain courtroom security and for you to do what you need to do approaching the witness stand.
[APPELLANT]: All right. I -
THE COURT: And that's the best I can tell you.
[APPELLANT]: I understand that. So, I'm just going to object because -
THE COURT: Okay, you -
[APPELLANT]: - I have -
THE COURT: - can object. I just need to know which way you want to proceed.
[APPELLANT]: Well, either way, at this point is restriction on my ability to effectively defend my case, I feel, and I would object to the ultimatum itself. I have been in the courtroom before and represented myself from custody and did not have a guard following my footsteps in this very building. Maybe not this courtroom but definitely on this site in front of [another judge], so I understand that there is a certain security protocol but I will just object to anything that would tend to lead the jurors to believe that I am in custody or that I'm dangerous -
THE COURT: I think -
[APPELLANT]: - because if you've got a person following me around, the jury's going to look at me like I'm a dangerous person, and I -
THE COURT: I think you're going to find, Mr. Campbell, that the deputies are going to maintain a distance that, as I've said three times now, allows them to maintain courtroom security and safety and allows you to represent yourself. That's why . . . I've told you you have two options and if you wish to get up and feel the need to do that and pick up an exhibit or do whatever you need to do, and if you wanted to remain seated and you needed an exhibit, the clerk would make sure you had the exhibit to ask your question. If you would like to move around the courtroom, that's the way it's going to be and they will act as professionally as they always do to make certain that it is in a way that ...

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