Mayson v. State, 248

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Citation238 Md. 283,208 A.2d 599
Docket NumberNo. 248,248
PartiesJames MAYSON v. STATE of Maryland.
Decision Date05 April 1965

William B. Evans and Donaldson C. Cole, Jr., Elkton, for appellant.

Franklin Goldstein, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., Baltimore, and Walter M. Baker and Harry J. Goodrick, State's Atty., and Asst. State's Atty., respectively, for Cecil County, Elkton, on the brief), for appellee.


PRESCOTT, Chief Judge.

Having been convicted by a jury in the Circuit Court for Cecil County of the crime of manslaughter and sentenced by the court, James Mayson has appealed. He was charged and convicted of having brutally assaulted and beaten his wife over a period lasting several days which caused her death. No question is raised as to the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction; hence it will be unnecessary to set forth the testimony in detail.

His only assignments of error are: (1) that the witness Betty Lounsbury should not have been permitted to testify to certain statements made by the deceased in the presence of the appellant and not denied by him, because said statements were offered as 'silent or implied' admissions and the State's Attorney had not furnished counsel for the accused with a summary of such statements in accordance with an order of court, issued pursuant to Maryland Rule 728; (2) that the witness Ella Pressley should not have been allowed to testify to certain criminating statements made by the accused, since he was not given a synopsis of such statements in accordance with the order of court mentioned above; and (3) that the witness Lester Pressley should not have been permitted to testify since he was not 'properly a rebuttal witness,' and the court had ordered sequestration of the witnesses and this witness, who was the husband of Ella Pressley and the father of Betty Lounsbury, had been in 'constant contact' with them during the trial, which lasted several days.

(1) and (2)

These contentions may be conveniently considered together. Although appellant stated the questions in his brief as we have above, in his argument therein he enlarges upon (2) so as to include objections to the testimony of Ella Pressley with reference to statements made by the deceased in the presence of the appellant and not denied by him.

Shortly after appellant's indictment, his counsel, pursuant to Maryland Rule 728, filed a motion 'for discovery and inspection.' Among quite a number of requests was one for a 'copy of any statements or confessions made by the defendant or an oral synopsis [emphasis ours] of any statements made by him which the State intends to use as evidence in the cause.' The court ordered the State's Attorney to make immediately available to the defendant or his attorneys the 'information sought in the aforegoing motion.' In response to this order, the State's Attorney wrote appellant's counsel, notifying them of the witnesses he intended to call at the trial and that they could inspect his file at any time they desired during business hours from Monday through Friday. Counsel did inspect the State's Attorney's file; and at the trial (which occurred about a year after the filing of the motion for discovery, having been postponed at appellant's request) he stated that he had given said counsel 'an oral synopsis' as to what the witnesses would testify. Counsel for the defense could not remember with certainty whether or not the oral synopsis had been furnished to them, but now argue that the State's Attorney's actions were not a compliance with the court's order (apparently claiming that the State's Attorney was required thereby to give them a written synopsis of the witnesses' testimony), hence the testimony should not have been admitted.

The witness Lounsbury, who was the niece of the deceased, testified to certain bruises on the deceased's body, which the deceased stated had been inflicted by the accused. These statements were made in the presence of the accused and not denied by him. The witness Ella Pressley, who was a sister of the deceased, gave testimony to the same effect, and also testified to certain statements made by the accused. No attack is made upon the admissibility of the evidence other than the alleged failure to comply with the order of court passed pursuant to Rule 728.

The trial court was correct, we think, in ruling that the court's order had been complied with. It may have been disappointing to counsel for the appellant when they realized they had requested 'an oral synopsis of any statements' made by the defendant, but this was language of their own selection and they obtained what they asked for. In addition, their failure to request a written synopsis did not harm their client's cause one iota. The main objectives of Rule 728 are to assist the defendant in preparing his defense, and to protect him from surprise. Cropper v. State, 233 Md. 384, 197 A.2d 112. A reading of that portion of the opening statement made by defense counsel included in appellee's appendix makes it clear to us that defense counsel knew before trial, what the testimony of the two witnesses named above was to be. For example, counsel stated, 'they [the State and/or the witnesses] are going to ask you to believe that James [the appellant] said he was going to kill her [the deceased], this, that, and the other thing, a lie from beginning to end.' He also stated that 'they are lying through their teeth,' 'remember this Pressley woman and Eva Mayson [the deceased] are thieves,' and 'before this case is over you are going to find them [the State's witnesses] the biggest pack of liars * * * that you have ever seen in this courtroom before, and maybe since.' In many jurisdictions, certain of the quoted remarks would be considered unusual and extraordinary ones to be made in an 'opening statement.' In any event, it is obvious that the appellant's case was not prejudiced by the failure to request, or to receive,...

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58 cases
  • Ayers v. State, 84
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • 1 September 1993
    ...and, if the impact of the evidence is such as to be both "manifestly wrong and substantially injurious," Mayson v. State, 238 Md. 283, 289, 208 A.2d 599, 602 (1965) quoting Kaefer v. State, 143 Md. 151, 160, 122 A. 30, 33 (1923), i.e., not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, see Dorsey v. S......
  • Hepple v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 4 June 1976
    ...he will ordinarily be limited to what is strictly rebutting evidence.' The Court set out the rule thus in Mayson v. State, 238 Md. 283, 288-289, 208 A.2d 599, 602 (1965): 'Ordinarily, an orderly conducted criminal trial anticipates the State adducing all of its evidence in chief and resting......
  • Fairfax Sav., F.S.B. v. Ellerin
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 1 September 1992
    ...or is a direct reply to, or a contradiction of, any new matter that has been brought into the case by the defense." Mayson v. State, 238 Md. 283, 289, 208 A.2d 599 (1965); State v. Hepple, 279 Md. 265, 270, 368 A.2d 445, 449sp;Court below was both manifestly wrong&n......
  • Bloodsworth v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 1 September 1987 a direct reply to, or a contradiction of, any new matter that has been brought into the case by the defense." Mayson v. State, 238 Md. 283, 289, 208 A.2d 599, 602 (1965); Lane v. State, 226 Md. 81, 90, 172 A.2d 400, 404 (1961), cert. denied, 368 U.S. 993 [82 S.Ct. 611, 7 L.Ed.2d 529] (19......
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