Bremer v. State, 583

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Citation18 Md.App. 291,307 A.2d 503
Docket NumberNo. 583,583
PartiesArthur Herman BREMER v. STATE of Maryland.
Decision Date06 July 1973

Page 291

18 Md.App. 291
307 A.2d 503
Arthur Herman BREMER
STATE of Maryland.
No. 583.
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
July 6, 1973.
Certiorari Denied Oct. 1, 1973.

Page 297

[307 A.2d 509] Benjamin Lipsitz, Baltimore with whom was Eleanor Jean Lipsitz, Baltimore, on the brief, for appellant.

Gary Melick, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom were Francis B. Burch, Atty. Gen., Edward F. Borgerding, Asst. Atty. Gen., Chief Crim. Div., Arthur A. Marshall, Jr., State's Atty., for Prince George's County and Elias Silverstein, Deputy State's Atty., on the brief, for appellee.

Argued before ORTH, C. J., and THOMPSON and MENCHINE, JJ.

ORTH, Chief Justice.

Arthur Herman Bremer does not claim that the evidence adduced at his trial before a jury in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County was not sufficient to sustain the convictions returned against him. 1 [307 A.2d 510] There was no

Page 298

call for that contention because clearly the evidence was sufficient in law to establish that he carried a handgun on his person, and that he used it in the commission of crimes of violence, assaulting four persons with intent to murder. George Corley Wallace, the Governor of Alabama; Nick Zarvos, a Special Agent of the United States Secret Service; Edred Cole Dothard, a member of the Alabama State Police; and Dora Thompson, a campaign worker for the Governor, were shot. The shootings occurred at the Laurel Shopping Center in Prince George's County at a Wallace Rally. The catastasis of the incident was when Governor Wallace finished his speech, descended from the speaker's platform

Page 299

and walked among the crowd shaking hands. As he was greeting the spectators, he and Zarvos and Dothard and Mrs. Thompson were shot. Evidence adduced by the testimony of the victims, except Governor Wallace, by physicians who treated them, and by several eyewitnesses was legally sufficient to prove the corpus delicti of each crime. 2 See Mahoney v. State, 13 Md.App. 105, 281 A.2d 421. The testimony of two

Page 300

eyewitnesses who made a positive judicial identification of Bremer as the person who fired the shots, and evidence tending to show that the bullets causing the injuries were fired from a handgun which was in Bremer's possession, were legally enough to [307 A.2d 511] establish Bremer's criminal agency. Honest v. State, 5 Md.App. 480, 248 A.2d 164. The trial court did not err in denying Bremer's motion for judgment of acquittal made at the close of all the evidence. Williams v. State, 5 Md.App. 450, 247 A.2d 731.

Bremer urges that the convictions be reversed, not because he is innocent of the wrongdoing of which he was found guilty, but because the convictions were improperly come by. It is a fundamental tenet of our system of justice that a person is presumed to be innocent until he is proved to be guilty. When a defendant is found guilty, his conviction must be properly obtained upon due regard for his substantive rights and fair observance of appropriate procedural rules. We explained this in McKinney v. Director, Md.App., 305 A.2d 192, (Defective Delinquent), filed 1 June 1973:

'Contrary to views expressed at times by those who may not understand them, laws and rules governing procedures in our system of administration of justice are far from being mere 'technicalities.' Such laws and rules constitute the flesh which fills out the skeleton made up of our substantive rights and responsibilities. Without procedures for invoking or enforcing those substantive rights and responsibilities, they would be bare indeed. A right without the means of enforcing it is an empty right.

In a society governed by laws and not by men, the laws and rules of procedure must be clearly expressed, and must be carefully followed. The alternative would lead to uncertainty at the least, and perhaps to chaos. Rights which are found only in the books, with no clear means of vindicating them in the courts, have little more than academic significance.

Page 301

'We are fully aware that there are times when the application of a procedural rule may appear to frustrate rather than to promote justice. But it is basic in our system of organized society that the greatest good for the greatest number is best accomplished by the uniform application of both substantive and procedural laws and rules which are sufficiently certain that a member of that society may know his rights, and how to assert or protect them.'

Bremer presents, as he has every right to do, a spate of reasons why the convictions against him should not stand. Some are procedural; some go to substance; some claim denial of constitutional rights; some assert violation of statutory prescriptions; all allege prejudicial error on the part of the trial court in refusing matters proposed by him or in permitting matters opposed by him. He contends the trial court erred:

I. in not abating or staying the trial;

II. in not dismissing the indictments;

III. in not rescinding its order for a mental examination of him;

IV. in not allowing challenge to the array of jurors;

V. in not granting proposed voir dire questions;

VI. in not permitting more than four peremptory challenges;

VII. in not excluding testimony;

(1) concerning his sanity adduced from a doctor who 'acknowledged that he did not know the Maryland test';

(2) concerning communications made by him to certain doctors;

(3) concerning his sanity because it was admitted during the guilt stage of the proceedings;

VIII. in its instructions to the jury;

Page 302

[307 A.2d 512] IX. in imposing separate sentences under the 2nd and 6th counts of each indictment;

X. in certain of its rulings on the evidence.

After affording them careful consideration, we affirm the judgments. We give our reasons.


On 14 June 1972 Bremer filed a motion to abate or stay the proceedings until '(a) a federal criminal prosecution presently pending against him has been concluded; (b) federal authorities who now have him in custody have surrendered him to appropriate Rpince George's County authorities and (c) the effects upon potential jurors of publicity relating to him and to the matters with which he is sought to be charged herein have been dissipated sufficiently to enable him to obtain a fair and impartial jury in this Court.'

The motion came on for hearing on 21 June. After Bremer adduced some evidence through the testimony of the manager of the city home delivery of the Washington Post, it was agreed that the hearing on the motion would be continued to enable the State and defense to prepare a stipulation and submit tangible evidence. On 28 June Bremer offered various newspapers and excerpts from newspapers and magazines. After the court had examined the evidence, it denied the motion. On appeal Bremer says that the denial was prejudicial error, and in support thereof relied only on that reason in the motion concerning the publicity as derogating from a fair trial.

In ruling on the motion the trial judge observed that the exhibits indicated that immediately after the date on which Bremer was charged 'there was considerable publicity about four different people being shot in a shopping center in Laurel.' He said:

'It's rather interesting to note that the publicity that was particularly called to the Court's attention was that in a magazine section of the Washington Post, which was seven

Page 303

days later, and in the next edition following the episode of Time Magazine, Newsweek and Life Magazine. Of course, all of that publicity was on a national basis and is not concentrated in any way in this area.

There was for the first few days considerable publicity in all of the news media. Interestingly enough, not very much in the local county weekly papers. There is no daily paper published in Prince George's County but the Washington and Baltimore papers, and undoubtedly very much the same news was published in newspapers all over the United States. I guess even other places beyond the limits of the United States.

The test here or the decision involves balancing a number of different factors. One is that a person accused of a crime not only is entitled to a speedy trial, but the authorities administering the system should be interested in bringing about speedy trials, and the public had a definite interest in speedy trials. There is nothing unusual about setting this kind of a case this length of time. I think counsel for the defendant would be compelled to concede readily a trial date that was set here is not unduly early or unduly speedy.

In addition to that, of course, there are cases that by their very nature they generate publicity and they generate discussion, and that can't be avoided. When one of those kind of cases comes up, there is more coverage by the news media, there is more public interest, there is obviously more publicity, but that is just something that occurs by the very nature of things, and the Court isn't responsible for that, and we have to balance that with the question that perhaps you can say if the trial was delayed one year there would not be quite as much publicity and people who had read-prospective jurors who had read something[307 A.2d 513] about it might have forgotten about it, or the idea would be dim in their minds,

Page 304

but six months it wouldn't be quite as dim, and if you waited two years it would be dimmer in their minds, and might possibly make an argument to continue one of these kinds of cases for several years. But you have to balance that with other interests, and the final test comes as to whether or not the kind of publicity and the nature of the case and the circumstances are such, weighing the public interest and getting cases over with and disposed of, and innocent people freed and guilty people dealt with, balancing that out witht he questions of delay, and then testing the whole question of whether or not the nature of the publicity has been sufficiently prejudicial or prejudicial to a degree that it would...

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