Good v. State, 465

Decision Date04 August 1965
Docket NumberNo. 465,465
Citation212 A.2d 487,240 Md. 1
PartiesDorothy GOOD v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Harry E. Taylor, Jr., Baltimore (Taylor & Waldron, Washington, D. C., on the brief), and by Hal C. B. Clagett, Upper Marlboro (Sasscer, Clagett & Powers, Upper Marlboro, on the brief), for appellant.

Robert F. Sweeney, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., Baltimore, and Arthur A. Marshall, Jr. and Vincent J. Femia, State's Atty. and Asst. State's Atty. for Prince George's County, Upper Marlboro, on the brief), for appellee.


SYBERT, Judge.

The appellant, Dorothy Good, a Prince George's County licensee under the alcoholic beverages law, was charged in the People's Court for that county in July 1963 with violating Code (1957), Art. 2B, by selling liquor on a Sunday. After three postponements requested by her, or her attorneys, Mrs. Good appeared before Judge McGrath of the People's Court on September 23, 1963, with counsel of her own choice. After waiving a jury trial and electing to be tried by the People's Court she, through counsel, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a fine of $150.00 and costs or, upon default in payment, to serve 60 days in the county jail. The appellant personally paid the fine and costs and was released.

On October 17, 1963, the Board of License Commissioners for Prince George's County, without notice and without a hearing, revoked Mrs. Good's liquor license. On October 24, 1963, she, through her present counsel (who did not represent her in the earlier People's Court proceedings), filed a petition for review of the board's action in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. In January 1964 Judge Parker of the Circuit Court reversed the action of the board because the revocation had been accomplished without a hearing as required by Code (1957), Art. 2B, sec. 70(a), and remanded the case. The board held a hearing in February 1964 and revoked the license pursuant to Art. 2B, sec. 69(f). This section makes revocation mandatory when a licensee has been convicted twice within a two year period of violating the Sunday sales law (which is Mrs. Good's situation). The board, however, is staying the revocation on a month to month basis pending the outcome of the attack upon her conviction, which is the subject of the appeals now before us.

Subsequent to the abortive revocation of her liquor license on October 17, 1963, Mrs. Good and her new counsel decided to challenge the validity of her plea of guilty of September 23, 1963. However, the time for appeal from the conviction had expired, since Code (1957), Art. 52, sec. 13(b), provides in effect that the right to appeal to the circuit court must be exercised within 10 days from the date of the judgment. The first action taken by present counsel 1 in regard to the guilty plea was the filing of a petition on the equity side of the Circuit Court on October 24, 1963, in which the State of Maryland was named as defendant. The equity court was asked to permit the filing of a belated appeal, or, in the alternative, to set aside the conviction and grant a new trial in the People's Court. 2 It was alleged that the petitioner 'did not realize and was not clearly and fully apprised by sounel of the consequences of a guilty plea' in regard to revocation of her liquor license; that she desired a trial on the merits and had a valid defense to the charge; that the guilty plea would not have been entered if she had known the consequences; and that she did not know an appeal had not been filed until after the time for filing had expired. (It is noted that the petitioner did not allege that she had made any objection when her counsel entered the plea of guilty, or that she had requested counsel to enter an appeal, or that she had attempted to enter an appeal herself.) In November 1963 the Attorney General of Maryland filed a motion raising preliminary objections to the petition, pursuant to Maryland Rule 323, alleging, inter alia, that the equity court lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter of the petition.

Before this petition and motion in equity were heard, appellant's counsel filed in the People's Court for Prince George's County on July 16, 1964, a petition seeking a belated appeal to the Circuit Court or a new trial. By this time one of the two attorneys who had represented appellant when the plea of guilty was entered had died. In the petition several allegations were made that did not appear in the equity petition filed in the Circuit Court the previous year. It was alleged that the 'guilty plea was entered by counsel over the protest' of appellant and that she had had witnesses present in court who were ready to testify in her defense. It was further stated that on the morning of September 23, 1963 (the date of trial), one of her defense counsel came to her place of business in Brandywine, Maryland, with an associate from his law office and attempted to buy her property, including her liquor license, telling her that if she did not sell she would lose her license. It was also alleged that the attorney had recently acquired an interest in a restaurant in Piscataway, Prince George's County, which needed a liquor license such as the one the appellant had, and that he did not disclose this information to appellant. (We were told at oral argument that the number of liquor licenses in the county was 'frozen', but that one other license was available at the time in question.) According to the petition, appellant refused to sell and informed her counsel of her intent not to plead guilty. And it was also alleged that just before entering the courtroom on September 23, counsel told appellant that he might be able to prevent revocation of her license and that he subsequently entered a plea of guilty and left the courtroom. When this petition was heard on July 24, 1964, Judge McGrath of the People's Court denied the prayers for relief on the ground that he was without authority to grant a belated appeal or a new trial.

On the same day the appellant filed an order for appeal from this denial of relief and the original papers were forwarded by the People's Court to the Circuit Court and were docketed as a criminal appeal. On August 24, 1964, the State's Attorney filed a motion raising preliminary objections to the appeal in which he asserted that the Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter and prayed that the appeal be dismissed.

However, before the criminal appeal was heard, and, in fact, before the State had filed its motion raising preliminary objections the appellant, on August 11, 1964, filed a petition on the law side of the Circuit Court. By this time the other of appellant's original defense counsel had died. The petition at law prayed for an order granting a belated appeal or a new trial and contained the same allegations made in the petition filed in the People's Court. On August 24, 1964, the State's Attorney filed a motion raising preliminary objections to this petition, asserting that the Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter.

Then in September 1964, the appellant filed a motion to consolidate the three cases (i. e., the petition in equity, the criminal appeal from the denial of the petition filed in the People's Court, the petition at law, and the three motions raising preliminary objections thereto) for a single hearing. In this motion among other things it was stated that 'the common law writ of coram nobis is available at law or equity in the Circuit Court or in the People's Court as relief to the petitioner in the circumstances set forth in her petitions.' Although another judge had signed an order consolidating the cases for a single hearing, when the cases came on for hearing in November 1964 before Judge Powers, they were heard seriatim in light of the language of Rule 503, prohibiting the consolidation or joint trial of law actions with equity actions. After the hearings, Judge Powers signed three separate orders: (1) and (2) granting the motions raising preliminary objections in the equity and law cases, and denying the petitions filed in those cases seeking orders permitting the filing of a belated appeal from the People's Court, or granting a new trial therein, and (3) dismissing the criminal appeal. The appellant appealed from each order and the three appeals are now before us in one record.

With respect to the petitions filed by appellant in the equity and law cases, Judge Powers concluded that even if appellant were able to prove the allegations made in her petitions, the Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction to grant the relief sought. We agree.

The appellant has cited no cases to support her position that an equity court has such jurisdiction and our independent research has not disclosed any. On the contrary, in Adams v. Commissioners of Town of Trappe, 204 Md. 165, 102 A.2d 830 (1954), this Court said (at p. 171 of 204 Md., 102 A.2d at page 834): 'It is a basic principle that courts of equity have jurisdiction over issues of property and the maintenance of civil rights, and do not interpose their aid in matters merely criminal which do not affect any rights of property. * * *' In Clark v. Todd, 192 Md. 487, 492, 64 A.2d 547 (1949), we observed that equity will enjoin the commission of a crime only when the criminal offense is primarily and essentially an injury to property, and then only within the same limits as where the element of criminality is entirely absent. And in Chappell v. Stewart, 82 Md. 323, 325-326, 33 A. 542, 543, 37 L.R.A. 783 (1896), we quoted with approval a passage from Kerr on Injunctions, pp. 1-2, which read in part: '* * * A court of equity has no jurisdiction in matters merely criminal or merely immoral which do not affect any right to property. * * * The court has no jurisdiction to restrain or prevent crime, or to enforce the performance of a moral duty * * *...

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  • Ruby v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1997
    ...court at the trial, and were not in issue under the pleadings, but which, if known, would have prevented the judgment." Good v. State, 240 Md. 1, 16, 212 A.2d 487 (1965); See also Madison v. State, 205 Md. 425, 109 A.2d 96 (1954); Bernard v. State, 193 Md. 1, 65 A.2d 297 (1949). As explaine......
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    ...use of this remedy, usually because of statutory language, to those persons actually imprisoned at the time of hearing. (Good v. State, 240 Md. 1, 212 A.2d 487, 494; State v. Richardson, 194 Kan. 471, 399 P.2d 799, 801; Smith v. State (Fla.App.), 175 So.2d 243; Hackett v. People, 158 Colo. ......
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