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State v. Roby

Supreme Court of Maine

October 17, 2017

STATE OF MAINE
v.
JEFFREY W. ROBY

          Argued: September 13, 2017

          James M. Mason, Esq. (orally), Handelman & Mason LLC, Brunswick, for appellant Jeffrey W. Roby

          Jonathan R. Liberman, District Attorney, and Alexander R. Willette, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Office of the District Attorney, Bath, for appellee State of Maine

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

          GORMAN, J.

         [¶1] Jeffrey W. Roby appeals from a judgment of conviction for domestic violence assault (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 207-A(1)(A) (2016), entered by the trial court (Sagadahoc County, Billings, J.) after a jury trial. He argues that the court abused its discretion by not presenting his proposed voir dire questions to the jury pool. We affirm the judgment.

         [¶2] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State as the prevailing party, the jury could rationally have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Simons, 2017 ME 180, ¶ 2, __ A.3d __. On July 25, 2016, Roby lived with his sexual partner in her house in Bowdoinham. During an argument that morning, Roby stomped on his partner's bare left foot and it quickly began to bruise.[1] After the partner called 9-1-1, Roby was arrested. On August 16, 2016, the State charged Roby with domestic violence assault (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 207-A(1)(A), and Roby pleaded not guilty.

         [¶3] The court held jury selection on December 2, 2016. On that same date, [2] Roby proposed a questionnaire that asked potential jurors to indicate their level of agreement with erroneous statements of law regarding criminal prosecutions. His proposed questionnaire included the following:

1.If a person is arrested for a crime, it is likely they [sic] are guilty. (Please circle one)
Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
2. A person accused of a crime should be required to present at least some evidence to prove their [sic] innocence. (Please circle one)
Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree

         [¶4] After discussing Roby's proposed questionnaire with trial counsel, the court declined to use it but, over the objection of the prosecutor, agreed to use a revised version of Roby's questionnaire as part of the jury selection process. The court began jury selection by ordering each member of the pool to complete a confidential questionnaire that asked about his or her experience with domestic violence. After excusing from the pool any individual who answered "yes" to a "disqualifying question" on the questionnaire, the court addressed the remaining members of the jury pool in open court. The court began this portion of the selection process by explaining some of the "responsibilities of jurors and some of the laws, rights and rules that apply to jury service and apply to criminal cases."

         [¶5] After completing this instruction, the court ordered the members of the jury pool to complete the revised questionnaire, which contained six questions concerning the topics addressed by the court in its preliminary remarks. The record contains no information about the results generated by that questionnaire, ...


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