Glaros v. State

Decision Date19 October 1960
Docket NumberNo. 15,15
Citation164 A.2d 461,223 Md. 272
PartiesStephanos GLAROS v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

William J. O'Donnell, Baltimore (Joel H. Pachino, Baltimore, on the brief), and by John L. Sanford, Jr., Berlin (Lee W. Bolte, Berlin, on the brief), for appellant.

Joseph S. Kaufman, Asst. Atty. Gen. (C. Ferdinand Sybert, Atty. Gen., and C. Burnam Mace and C. Awdry Thompson, State's Atty. and Spec. Asst. State's Atty., for Dorchester County, Cambridge, on the brief), for appellee.



Appellant, Stephanos Glaros, indicted as 'Alias 'Steve the Greek',' was convicted by a jury of larceny of $155,000 in cash stolen from the battered safe of a lower Dorchester County seafood packer and general storekeeper. Glaros claims prejudicial error because: (1) the court refused to permit him to see before trial notes made by policemen after their conversations with him; (2) the court refused to ask prospective jurymen certain questions on voir dire; (3) admissions or confessions were admitted in evidence although (a) the answers of the police officers as to the voluntariness of the statements were conclusions, (b) the chain of custody was not properly proven, (c) threats and inducements actually were made, and (d) the statements harmful to Glaros were taken out of context without requiring the witness to relate the whole conversation; (4) a policeman was not ordered to leave the trial table of the prosecution during the examination of Glaros; (5) the evidence was legally insufficient to go to the jury; and (6) the court's instructions on circumstantial evidence were deficient.

We can find no substantial merit in any of the contentions.

The court ordered the prosecution to permit inspection and copying of all memoranda or transcripts of statements of Glaros made at the time of the conversation, but denied inspection of any made after the conversation. Glaros concedes he was given copies of the records two State troopers made at the time of the conversations. The notes he was not given were those made by two other troopers after the conversation which were used by them on the stand to refresh their recollections. The notes were not offered in evidence and the testimony they refreshed was cumulative. The matter was one for the discretion of the trial court, Maryland Rule 728 (Discovery and Inspection), and we find no abuse of discretion. State v. Haas, 188 Md. 63, 76, 51 A.2d 647.

The court asked the jury panel on voir dire whether they could, without bias or prejudice, render a verdict solely on the evidence 'without regard to the race, creed or nationality of the defendant.' The Court refused to ask if they had any prejudice against a Greek which would induce a guilty verdict on less evidence than they would require to convict someone else (Glaros, in fact, was born in the United States of Greek parents), and whether any juror or member of his immediate family was presently indebted to the victim of the robbery or his wife, or had been within the past five years. We think the general question as to bias against any race, creed or nationality eliminated the need to ask the specific question as to possible prejudice against a Greek. In Brown v. State, 220 Md. 29, 36, 150 A.2d 895, 898, relied on by appellant, 'The court below asked no question whatever as to bias or prejudice, even in the broadest terms.' The question asked in the case before us was not inadequate because too general. See Goldstein v. State, 220 Md. 39, 46, 150 A.2d 900, which distinguished Casey v. Roman Catholic Archbishop, 217 Md. 595, 143 A.2d 627, 72 A.L.R.2d 893, on the form of the question there, under the facts and chronology of that case.

There was no requirement that the court ask the questions as to whether a juryman owed money to the victims of the robbery. It is urged that if one did he would be prejudiced against the accused because the hard-pressed victim would be likely to call on him to pay what he owed. The argument seems far-fetched.

Before we discuss the contentions of the appellant in regard to the admissions or confessions he made, we note that as in Cooper v. State, 220 Md. 183, 187, 152 A.2d 120, 122, there is room for question as to whether the incriminating statements constituted admissions or confessions. As that case said, perhaps the nature of the statements '* * * is best described in the words of Chief Judge Bond in Markley v. State, 173 Md. 309, 314, 196 A. 95, as a statement in the nature of a confession.' We conclude, as we did in the Cooper case, that since the State has treated the statements, singly or collectively, as a confession and has felt itself bound to meet the burden it bears as to confessions, we shall so consider them for the the purposes of the appeal.

Not persuasive is the appellant's claim that it was error to allow police officers to answer whether any violence had been used against Glaros and what if any threats or promises had been made to him, to compel or induce his admissions or confessions, because the answers would be the opinions or conclusions of the witness. Authorities holding inadmissible, as conclusions, bare assertions or answers that confessions of an accused were made freely and voluntarily are relied on.

Assuming these decisions to have been correct in holding such an answer an opinion or conclusion of an unqualified witness on a point as to which the court and, in Maryland, the jury, must ultimately draw their own conclusions and form their own opinions, we think the same cannot be said of an answer as to the use of violence, or the making of threats or promises In a remote and abstract sense, the answers embody opinions and conclusions but this is true to some extent of the most factual answer. The assumption that there is a difference in kind between 'fact' and 'opinion' has been said to be an illusion. 'There is no conceivable statement however specific, detailed and 'factual,' that is not in some measure the product of inference and reflection as well as observation and memory.' McCormick, Evidence, Sec. 11, p. 22; see also 7 Wigmore, Evidence, 3rd Ed., Sec. 1919. Essentially the testimony as to the absence of violence, threats or promises is factual--it is what the witness saw and heard (or, more precisely, as to what he did not see or hear), rather than what he inferred or believed. The courts have held that testimony phrased like that before us is not subject to the objection that it is the opinion or conclusion of the witness. People v. Jackson, 138 Cal. 462, 71 P. 566, 567, et seq.; Crain v. State, 166 Ala. 1, 52 So. 31, 32; State v. Castelli, 92 Conn. 58, 101 A. 476, 479; People v. Bannon, 59 Cal.App. 50, 209 P. 1029, 1033.

Each of the police witnesses gave testimony of the facts and circumstances as to custody and the manner of asking the questions, and their content and that of the conversation generally, in order to show that Glaros voluntarily gave incriminating answers or volunteered incriminating information. The questions relating to violence, threats and promises were to negative anything beyond what had been detailed. It has been held specifically that they are admissible for just such purpose. People v. Treichel, 229 Mich. 303, 200 N.W. 950, 953; State v. Kerns, 50 N.D. 927, 198 N.W. 698, 703. It is difficult to see how negatives reasonably and practicably could otherwise be proven. The question of whether an answer will properly aid the jury is one primarily for the discretion of the trial court. We find no abuse of discretion here.

The claim that the evidence of the chain of custody did not adequately meet the State's burden of showing that no force, coercion or inducement brought...

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    • September 1, 1984 often no clear line between "fact" and "opinion." This Court, regarding the gray area between the two, stated in Glaros v. State, 223 Md. 272, 277, 164 A.2d 461 (1960): "The assumption that there is a difference in kind between 'fact' and 'opinion' has been said to be an illusion. 'There......
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    ...171 A.2d 244 (1961) (burglary and larceny); Booker v. State, 225 Md. 183, 186, 170 A.2d 203 (1961) (armed robbery); Glaros v. State, 223 Md. 272, 280, 164 A.2d 461 (1960) (larceny); Butz v. State, 221 Md. 68, 77-78, 156 A.2d 423 (1959) (burglary); Jordan v. State, 219 Md. 36, 46, 148 A.2d 2......
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