UPDATE - Maryland Court Of Special Appeals Reconsiders Its Opinion In Hayes & Winston v. State, Granting New Trials To Both Defendants

On August 25, 2020, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals entered a new opinion in Hayes v. State & Winston v. State (consolidated), reversing both Ms. Hayes and Mr. Winston’s convictions and ordering new trials. In the Court of Special Appeals’ original opinion issued in this case on August 3, 2020, the Court had ordered a new trial for Mr. Winston in light of the Maryland Court of Appeals’ opinion in Kazadi v. State, but did not order a new trial for Ms. Hayes, finding that Ms. Hayes’ trial counsel did not preserve the issue for appellate review. The Court of Special Appeals concluded that the issue had not been preserved for appellate review, as to Ms. Hayes, because of her counsel’s failure to object to the court’s rejection of the requested voir dire questions regarding the state’s burden of proof and the defendant’s right to testify, which were at issue in Kazadi. Thereafter, Ms. Hayes moved for reconsideration and the Court of Special Appeals issued a new opinion, granting her a new trial.

In its reconsidered opinion, the Court of Special Appeals determined that although Ms. Hayes did not join in Mr. Winston’s initial request for the two voir dire questions nor in his renewed request for those questions on the second day of voir dire, because she submitted a copy of proposed questions to the trial court before the end of the voir dire process, and because the two questions at issue were included in the submission, she preserved this issue for appellate review. Beyond the Court of Special Appeals conclusion that Ms. Hayes did preserve this issue, the Court’s opinion sets forth critical clarification of its interpretation of the rules regarding objections and preservation for appellate review. The Court of Special Appeals explained that even though Ms. Hayes joined two en masse objections by Mr. Winston’s counsel to the voir dire questions, since she did not join the specific objections and requests for the two questions at issue, she had not preserved the issue (prior to filing the submission with her requested voir dire). The Court emphasized that the en masse objections were insufficient because “each general joinder follow[ed] a failure to join the specific objection,” and general joinders cannot relate back to resurrect a request counsel had not made previously. Of course, ultimately, because Ms. Hayes gave the court a copy of her proposed voir dire questions before the end of the voir dire, and that filing contained the two Kazadi questions, the Court was able to find that she had preserved the issue, meriting a new trial. Before concluding its opinion, the Court made sure to alert defense attorneys that “the decision [by defense counsel] not to join Mr. Winston’s objections nearly deprived Ms. Hayes of the benefit of Kazadi,” and contrary to defense counsel’s characterization, “it was not [ ] ‘plain from this record that this issue was, in fact, preserved by counsel for Ms. Hayes’.”

Nathans & Biddle LLP is a highly respected advocate for individuals and businesses involved in a broad spectrum of white-collar criminal and civil disputes, forfeitures, criminal post-conviction proceedings, and attorney grievance matters. With offices in Baltimore, Annapolis, and Greenbelt, we represent clients across Maryland (both federal and state courts), the Washington D.C. area, and several other federal courts across the country.

The full opinion from the Court of Special Appeals can be found at: https://www.mdcourts.gov/data/opinions/cosa/2020/0500s19.pdf.

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