Bullock v. State

Decision Date17 December 1962
Citation186 A.2d 888,230 Md. 280
PartiesDonald BULLOCK, Charles L. DuDonis, Daniel Joseph Riidiger v. STATE of Maryland. Misc. 3, Misc. 4, Misc. 5.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Charles A. Reese, Ellicott City, for appellants.

Jacques E. Leeds, Asst. Atty. Gen., (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., on the brief) Baltimore, for appellee.


HORNEY, Judge.

The question presented in these cases is whether the petitioners (Donald Bullock and Charles L. DuDonis 1), who are presently confined in the Patuxent Institution, are entitled to remove the petitions they filed, for a redetermination of the status of each as a defective delinquent, from the Criminal Court of Baltimore to some other court for hearing.

The question to be decided is before us on the motion of the State to dismiss the appeals of the petitioners from identical orders of the Circuit Court for Howard County (to which the petitions had been removed) remanding the petitions for redetermination of status to the Criminal Court of Baltimore because there was no constitutional or statutory authority for the removals. Since the only question on appeal is the same as that raised by the motion to dismiss, it is apparent that the ruling on the motion will be dispositive of the appeals. 2

When the petitions for redetermination of status came on for hearings in the Criminal Court of Baltimore each of the petitioners filed a suggestion of removal pursuant to Section 8 of Article IV of the Constitution of Maryland and Maryland Rule 542. The Criminal Court of Baltimore ordered the cases removed to the Circuit Court for Howard County. That court, in ruling on the motion of the State's Attorney for a remand of the petitions to the court of original jurisdiction concluded that 'since there was no constitutional nor statutory authority for the removal of these cases to [the Circuit Court for Howard County], they must be remanded to the Criminal Court of Baltimore.' We agree.

Section 8 of Article IV of the Constitution in pertient part provides that:

'[I]n all suits or actions, at law * * * upon suggestion * * * [that a] party cannot have a fair and impartial trial * * * [the court] shall order and direct the record of proceedings * * * to be transmitted to some other Court having jurisdiction * * * for trial.'

The constitutional provision further provides that the General Assembly 'shall make such modification of existing law as may be necessary to regulate and give force to this provision.' Code (1957), Art. 75, § 44, is the legislative action giving force to the constitutional provision and Rule 542 is the procedural regulation governing the right of removal. In substance, the constitutional, statutory and regulatory provisions are the same. And see Kisner v. State, 209 Md. 524, 122 A.2d 102 (1956), where it was said that that part of the provision requiring the court in which the case 'may be pending' to transmit it 'to some other court having jurisdiction' would seem to refer to jurisdiction of the subject matter.

There is no longer any doubt that a proceeding under Article 31B of the Code relating to defective delinquents is civil in nature. See Purks v. Director, 224 Md. 643, 166 A.2d 917 (1961); Blizzard v. State, 218 Md. 384, 147 A.2d 227 (1958); McElroy v. Director, 211 Md. 385, 127 A.2d 380 (1956); Eggleston v. State, 209 Md. 504, 121 A.2d 698 (1956). But that does not necessarily mean, as the petitioners contend, that such proceedings are 'suits or actions at law' within the purview of the Constitution, the statute or the rule.

While the purpose of the constitutional provisions affording a right of removal is to assure 'a fair and impartial trial' when it cannot be had in a court in which an action at law is pending, Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Libowitz, 159 Md. 28, 149 A. 449 (1930), it has invariably been held that the removal clauses are to be liberally construed in favor of the right, Barnes v. Meleski, 211 Md. 182, 126 A.2d 599 (1956). Yet, there have been a number of cases 3 in which the right of removal has been denied because the particular proceeding was considered not to be within the provisions of the Constitution or the statutes regulating and giving force to such provisions.

The principle of the Maryland cases--which, together with the constitutional and statutory provisions concerning the removal of causes, were extensively reviewed and discussed in Baltimore v. Libowitz, supra,--is that the term 'suits or actions at law' are (as was said at p. 34 of 159 Md., at page 452 of 149 A.) '(those) common-law and statutory actions, [which], in addition to tendering (a) an issue of fact (b) for trial by jury, have the further attributes (c) of beginning in a court of original common-law jurisdiction, and (d) of being the ordinary proceedings between man and man by which redress is sought as a matter of right in cases of ordinary injuries to person and to property,' but do not include (as was also said at p. 37, page 453 of 149 A.) those actions 'brought in a court of original jurisdiction by the state in the exercise of its sovereign power or function.' We think the latter clause would embrace a proceeding such as those brought to determine or redetermine the status of a person as a defective delinquent. Such a proceeding necessarily involves the power and function of the State to safeguard society against the anti-social behavior of a defective deliquent as well as to afford such person the means of terminating his confinement when it becomes apparent that it is reasonably safe to release him from further confinement.

Of course, as was said by Judge Macgill in his comprehensive opinion filed in the lower court, '[i]t is clear that the constitutional right of removal is to be liberally construed and cannot be restricted by legislative act (Barnes v. Meleski, [supra]), but it seems equally clear that it cannot be enlarged by implication to include proceedings not mentioned nor contemplated at the time of its adoption (Baltimore v. Libowitz, supra).' And see the unsigned case note (to Heslop v. State) in 13 Md.L.Rev. 344 tracing the history of the right of removal in this State.

Although the Legislature lacks authority to enact a law restricting or limiting the right of removal, it nevertheless has the power to extend the right by legislative enactment, Price v. Nesbitt, 29 Md. 263 (1868), so long as the enactment does not conflict with the Constitution, Heslop v. State, 202 Md. 123, 95 A.2d 880 (1953), and has, in fact, done so. See, for instance, Chapter 187 of the Laws of 1865 and Chapter 587 of the Laws of 1927. But the power to enlarge the right is a legislative, not a judicial, function, and, so far, the Legislature has not extended the right of...

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27 cases
  • Johnson v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • September 1, 1984
    ... ... IV, § 8), controls. Gray v. State, 224 Md. 308, 315, 167 A.2d 865, 868 (1961). Our Rules of Procedure merely implement the right already delineated in that organic document. The judicial branch of government will not expand this right. Bullock v. State, 230 Md. 280, 285, 186 A.2d 888, 891 (1962) ...         Moreover, cases other than Johnson and Veney, supra, recognize the limitation on the automatic right of removal. These cases preceded the existence of Rules 738 and 542, but nevertheless held that there is only one ... ...
  • Pinkney v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • April 6, 1970
    ... ... authority to apply its usual inherent authority to grant a new trial' in defective delinquent proceedings, noting, at 212, 225 A.2d at 469: 'If new trials are to be granted in defective delinquent proceedings, the Legislature, not the Courts, should provide them.' The Court had found in Bullock v. State, 230 Md. 280, 186 A.2d 888 that the constitutional right of removal in law actions did not apply to defective delinquency proceedings in the absence of legislature authority therefor and saw 'a definite analogy between the right of removal and the right to a new trial.' 245 Md. at 211, ... ...
  • Smith v. Pearre
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1992
    ... ... While the right of removal may be waived or surrendered, State v. Simms, 234 Md. 237, 198 A.2d 891 (1964), we believe that under the facts of this case appellants did not waive the right. We reject appellees' ...         The Court of Appeals has consistently held that removal provisions are to be liberally construed. In Bullock v. State, 230 Md. 280, 283, 186 A.2d 888 (1962), the Court stated, "[I]t has invariably been held that the removal clauses are to be liberally ... ...
  • Perkins v. Eskridge
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • September 24, 1976
    ... ...         Jeffrey B. Smith and William W. Cahill, Jr., Baltimore, on the brief, for amicus curiae, Md. State Bar Ass'n, Inc. and The Bar Ass'n of Baltimore City ...         E. Dale Adkins, III, Baltimore (John F. King and Anderson, Coe & King, ... g., Shreffler v. Morris, 262 Md. 161, 167, 277 A.2d 62, 65 (1971); Bullock ... ...
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