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State v. Leblanc-Simpson

Supreme Court of Maine

July 26, 2018

STATE OF MAINE
v.
EZRA LEBLANC-SIMPSON

          Argued: May 16, 2018

          Lawrence C. Winger, Esq. (orally), Portland, for appellant Ezra LeBlanc-Simpson

          Stephanie Anderson, District Attorney, and Jonathan T. Sahrbeck, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Cumberland County District Attorney's Office, Portland, for appellee State of Maine

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

          ALEXANDER, J.

         [¶1] This appeal presents the question of whether a person who has conditions of release set by a judicial officer can be convicted of violation of a condition of release, 15 M.R.S. § 1092 (1)(B) (2017), for acts committed while in jail after not securing release on bail. The Bail Code specifies that "[a] condition of release takes effect and is fully enforceable as of the time the judicial officer sets the condition" 15 M.R.S. § 1026(7) (2017). The Bail Code also requires that the judicial officer shall provide the defendant with a written statement of the conditions of release, 15 M.R.S. § 1026(5)(A) (2017), and advise the defendant of "[t]he penalties for and consequences of violating a condition of release," 15 M.R.S. § 1026(5)(B)(2) (2017).

         [¶2] Ezra LeBlanc-Simpson appeals from a judgment of conviction for twelve counts of violating a condition of release (Class C), 15 M.R.S. § 1092 (1)(B), entered in the Unified Criminal Docket (Cumberland County, Mills, J.) following a bench trial. LeBlanc-Simpson challenges the application of conditions of release to him while he remained incarcerated. He also contends that he was not provided with adequate notice of the conditions of release or of the penalties for violating conditions of release while he remained incarcerated, as required by 15 M.R.S. § 1026(5) (2017).[1]

         [¶3] Because the State presented insufficient evidence that LeBlanc-Simpson was provided with notice of the conditions of release applicable to him while he was in jail, we must vacate the judgment.

         I. CASE HISTORY

         [¶4] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the trial court could have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Beckwith, 2015 ME 72, ¶ 10, 117 A.3d 1049.

         [¶5] On October 20, 2016, LeBlanc-Simpson was arrested and charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. §§211(1), 1252(4) (2017), criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. §§ 209(1), 1252(4) (2017), and two counts of violating a condition of release (Class E), 15 M.R.S. § 1092(1)(A) (2017). On October 21, 2016, the State filed a notice joining LeBlanc-Simpson's case with a case against another person, making that person a co-defendant with LeBlanc-Simpson. See M.R.U. Crim. P. 8(b).

         [¶6] LeBlanc-Simpson made his initial appearance in court on October 21, 2016. Cash bail was set by the court at $10, 000 with conditions of release. The conditions of release provided that LeBlanc-Simpson shall (1) not use any alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs, (2) not possess any alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs, (3) not possess any dangerous weapons, including, but not limited to, firearms, (4) submit to searches of his person, vehicle and residence, and, if applicable, to chemical tests at any time without articulable suspicion or probable cause, and (5) have no direct or indirect contact with the co-defendant.

         [¶7] The conditions of release form was signed by the judge but was not signed by LeBlanc-Simpson. The record from the trial does not include a transcript of the initial appearance hearing or any other evidence addressing whether or not, at that hearing, the judge specifically advised LeBlanc-Simpson of the conditions of release or, as required by 15 M.R.S. § 1026(5)(B)(2), of "[t]he penalties for and consequences of violating a condition of release"

         [¶8] LeBlanc-Simpson did not post the required $10, 000 bail and remained in the Cumberland County Jail. Between November 7, 2016, and December 12, 2016, while he remained in jail, ...


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