Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Lajoie

Supreme Court of Maine

January 17, 2017

STATE OF MAINE
v.
DANA P. LAJOIE

          Argued: December 14, 2016

          Gene R. Libby, Esq., and Tyler J. Smith, Esq. (orally), Libby O'Brien Kingsley & Champion, LLC, Kennebunk, for appellant Dana P. Lajoie.

          R. Christopher Almy, District Attorney, and Tracy Collins, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District V, Bangor, for appellee State of Maine.

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

          ALEXANDER, J.

         [¶l] Dana P. Lajoie appeals from a judgment of conviction for baiting deer (Class E), 12 M.R.S. § 11452(1)(A), (2) (2016), and hunting from an observation stand overlooking deer bait (Class E), 12 M.R.S. § 11452(1)(B), (2) (2016), entered by the trial court (Piscataquis County, Stitham, J.) following a one-day jury trial.[1] On appeal, Lajoie argues that (1) the trial court committed obvious error when it failed to expressly instruct the jury on the requisite mens rea required for each offense charged, and (2) statements by the prosecutor during his opening and closing-regarding the unfairness of Lajoie's actions and the importance of hunting in the local community- constituted prosecutorial misconduct, which resulted in obvious error that was sufficiently prejudicial to have affected the outcome of the proceeding. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         I. CASE HISTORY

         [¶2] Viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the jury could have rationally found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Haag, 2012 ME 94, ¶ 2, 48 A.3d 207.

         [¶3] On October 31, 2015-during the open season on deer-two game wardens encountered Lajoie hunting from his tree stand in the woods near Rips Road in Brownville. Lajoie was wearing camouflage clothing and had a loaded Winchester rifle and a deer call. There were apples belonging to Lajoie at the base of the tree stand, apples in view of the tree stand, apples scattered throughout the area, and no apple producing trees nearby. Lajoie had placed apples in that area on that day and on days earlier in the fall.[2] Lajoie used the apples to attract deer and to cover his scent, because he knew deer were attracted to apples.

         [¶4] As a result of this conduct, Lajoie was charged with illegally baiting deer, 12 M.R.S. § 11452(1)(A), and hunting from an observation stand overlooking deer bait, 12 M.R.S. § 11452(1)(B). He pleaded not guilty to both charges. A one-day jury trial was held on March 17, 2016. Lajoie proceeded unrepresented at trial.

         [¶5] In his opening statement, the prosecutor stated that hunting was a great resource in this State, and that there were rules about how hunting was to be done-and claimed that "the purpose of these statutes is to make sure that there's a level playing field, that everybody has - every hunter has the same opportunity as the next one." Lajoie did not object to these statements.

         [¶6] The State presented testimony from the two wardens involved in the investigation of Lajoie's actions. After the State rested its case, Lajoie testified in his own defense. He denied using apples to "bait" deer into the area below his tree stand and explained to the jury that he was using the apples for scent cover rather than bait. He explained that there were many products used to cover human scent-such as "Buck Jam, " which is rubbed on a hunter's boots. He concluded by stating that he chose apples for scent cover over other products because apples provide a "more natural scent."

         [¶7] Lajoie and the prosecutor discussed proposed jury instructions with the court and agreed that the jury instructions would contain the language from the deer baiting statute and would also define "hunting" for the jury. The agreed-to instructions were given by the court.

         [¶8] In his closing argument to the jury, the prosecutor returned to his claims about the policy reasons for the hunting laws. He stated that "the purpose of these laws is to create a level playing field ... especially in this area - this is an area where hunting is important to people." Lajoie did not object to these statements.

         [¶9] Prior to deliberations, the court reminded the jurors that it was their responsibility to decide the facts and to apply the law provided by the court to those facts. The court further stated that the opening statements and closing arguments by the parties were not evidence from which the jury could find facts.

         [¶10] The jury returned a verdict of guilty on both baiting deer pursuant to 12 M.R.S. § 11452(1)(A), and hunting from an observation stand overlooking deer bait pursuant to 12 M.R.S. § 11452(1)(B). The court entered a judgment on the verdicts imposing fines of $400 for illegally baiting deer and $400 for hunting from an observation stand overlooking ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.