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State v. Garcia

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

December 23, 2014

STATE OF MAINE
v.
FIDEL GARCIA

Submitted On Briefs: September 23, 2014.

Remanded to the trial court for correction of the statutory reference in the Judgment and Commitment to 29-A M.R.S. § 2557-A(2)(C). Judgment affirmed in all other respects.

Whitney J. Hayre, Esq., Law Offices of Anthony J. Sineni III, LLC, Portland, for appellant Fidel Garcia.

Stephanie Anderson, District Attorney, and Julia Sheridan, Asst. Dist. Atty., Prosecutorial District No. Two, Portland, for appellee State of Maine.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, SILVER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1138

HJELM, J.

[¶1] Fidel Garcia appeals from a judgment of conviction for operating after revocation (Class C), 29-A M.R.S. § 2557-A(2)(C) (2013), entered in the trial court (Cumberland County, Warren, J.) after a jury trial.[1] Garcia argues that the court

Page 1139

erred in refusing to instruct the jury about certain statutory requirements affecting written notice of revocation. See 29-A M.R.S. § § 2481, 2482 (2013). He also contends that he was unfairly prejudiced by the State's use of documents that he alleges were not properly identified as part of an exhibit but nonetheless were presented to the jury. We conclude that any errors were harmless and affirm the judgment as amended. See supra note 1.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] Viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence establishes the following facts. See State v. Cruthirds, 2014 ME 86, ¶ 2, 96 A.3d 80. On May 18, 2013, Westbrook police officer Brett Bissonnette saw a truck drive through a public parking lot and then stop. Bissonnette watched as Garcia exited the truck from the driver's side door. He did not see anyone else in the vehicle. Bissonnette approached Garcia, and Garcia told Bissonnette that he did not know if his driver's license was currently active. Bissonnette then checked the status of Garcia's license and found that it was under revocation because Garcia was a habitual offender.

[¶3] Garcia was charged with operating after habitual offender revocation (Class C), 29-A M.R.S. § 2557-A(2)(D) (2013). The case proceeded to jury trial in November 2013. At trial, after the State rested its case, Garcia presented the testimony of Robert O'Connell, Jr., who was the former Director of Driver License Services at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). He explained that BMV is the part of the Maine Department of the Secretary of State that is charged with providing notice of revocation as required by 29-A M.R.S. § 2482. O'Connell testified that in December 2008, BMV sent a written notice to Garcia notifying him that, as a result of a conviction earlier that year for operating after habitual offender revocation, the period of an existing license revocation was being extended. O'Connell explained that the notice was sent to Garcia at an address that BMV maintained in its records but that the notice was returned as undeliverable. O'Connell also testified that BMV did not receive a report from the law enforcement officer involved in the matter that led to the 2008 conviction.

[¶4] During the course of O'Connell's testimony, the court conferred with counsel at sidebar. As they were discussing an evidentiary issue, the jury officer advised the court and counsel that the jurors reported to him that they were confused about O'Connell's testimony. After ...


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