Sabisch v. Moyer, No. 6, Sept. Term, 2019

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtWatts, J.
Citation466 Md. 327,220 A.3d 272
Parties Joshua SABISCH v. Stephen T. MOYER et al. Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
Decision Date20 November 2019
Docket NumberNo. 6, Sept. Term, 2019

466 Md. 327
220 A.3d 272

Joshua SABISCH
v.
Stephen T. MOYER et al.
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

No. 6, Sept. Term, 2019

Court of Appeals of Maryland.

November 20, 2019


Argued by Jeffrey M. Ross, Asst. Public Defender (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender of Maryland, Baltimore, MD), on brief, for Petitioner.

Argued by Daniel J. Jawor, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Brian E. Frosh, Atty. Gen. of Maryland, Baltimore, MD), on brief, for Respondents.

Argued before: Barbera, C.J., McDonald, Watts, Hotten, Getty, Booth, Lynne A. Battaglia (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Watts, J.

466 Md. 330

A writ of habeas corpus—meaning "that you have the body" in Law Latin—is "employed to bring a person before a court,

220 A.3d 274

most frequently to ensure that the person's imprisonment or detention is not illegal[.]" Habeas Corpus , Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). This Court has observed that "the great object" of a writ of habeas corpus "is the liberation of parties who may be imprisoned or detained without sufficient cause." Olewiler v. Brady, 185 Md. 341, 345, 44 A.2d 807, 809 (1945) (cleaned up). The common law writ of habeas corpus was codified in a Maryland statute in 1809, and later encompassed by the protections of the Maryland Constitution of 1867. See id. at 346, 44 A.2d at 809. Specifically, the Maryland Constitution

466 Md. 331

provides that "[t]he General Assembly shall pass no Law suspending the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus." Md. Const., Art. III, § 55.

Today, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. (1974, 2013 Repl. Vol., 2015 Supp.) ("CJ") § 3-702(a) generally governs who may petition for a writ of habeas corpus, providing:

A person committed, detained, confined, or restrained from his [or her] lawful liberty within the State for any alleged offense or under any color or pretense or any person in his [or her] behalf, may petition for the writ of habeas corpus to the end that the cause of the commitment, detainer, confinement, or restraint may be inquired into.

Upon receipt of a properly filed petition for a writ of habeas corpus, among other things, "the judge shall grant the writ unless[ ] the judge finds ... that the individual confined or restrained is not entitled to any relief[.]" Md. R. 15-303(e)(3)(A).

In this case, we must determine whether a person who was placed on unsupervised probation by a Maryland trial court and subsequently moved to another State was committed, detained, confined, or restrained within Maryland. Following a bench trial in the District Court of Maryland, sitting in Baltimore County, Joshua Sabisch, Petitioner, was found guilty of fourth-degree sex offense. The District Court stayed the entry of judgment and offered Sabisch probation before judgment ("PBJ") with conditions, which he accepted. Five months later, Sabisch appeared before the District Court for a violation of probation hearing, and the District Court found that Sabisch had violated his probation. The District Court modified the conditions of probation to be "unsupervised" to accommodate Sabisch's desire to move from Maryland to Michigan. Sabisch subsequently filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the terms of his probation constituted an unlawful restraint on his liberty and raising various grounds for

466 Md. 332

relief related to the proceedings in the District Court.1 At a hearing on the petition, the circuit court denied the petition. Sabisch appealed, and, in an unreported opinion, the Court of Special Appeals granted Respondents' motion to dismiss, holding that, at the time that Sabisch filed the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, he was neither physically restrained nor within the State. Thereafter, Sabisch filed in this Court a petition for a writ of certiorari , which we granted.

Against this backdrop, we must decide whether the Court of Special Appeals erred in holding that, to be entitled to habeas corpus relief pursuant to CJ § 3-702(a), a person must be physically restrained within Maryland, and that Sabisch was not entitled to habeas corpus relief

220 A.3d 275

because he was not physically restrained within the State. We hold that, under the plain language of CJ § 3-702(a), to be eligible to petition for a writ of habeas corpus, a person must be "committed, detained, confined, or restrained from his [or her] lawful liberty within the State[,]" nothing more and nothing less. The plain language of CJ § 3-702(a) does not limit eligibility for habeas corpus relief to those in physical restraint. Under the plain language of CJ § 3-702(a), a petition for a writ of habeas corpus is not foreclosed where a person is placed on probation with conditions that significantly restrict or restrain the person's liberty within the State. We hold that people who are committed, detained, or confined within the State or persons on probation with conditions that significantly restrain the person's lawful liberty within the State are entitled to seek habeas corpus relief. In short, under CJ § 3-702(a), to be eligible to seek habeas corpus relief, a person must be committed, detained, confined, or restrained in the State, which may involve physical custody or significant restrictions of a person's liberty within the State. Here, when the petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed, Sabisch, who was on unsupervised

466 Md. 333

probation and living in Michigan, was not committed, detained, confined, or restrained in Maryland, as required by CJ § 3-702(a). Under the circumstances of this case, when Sabisch filed his habeas corpus petition, he was not significantly restrained in Maryland, and thus was not eligible to seek habeas corpus relief in Maryland pursuant to CJ § 3-702(a).

BACKGROUND

Although the issues in this case do not involve resolution of the merits of the claims that Sabisch raised in the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, for context, we set forth the circumstances that gave rise to the imposition of probation and conditions of probation.

Pretrial Proceedings in the District Court

In 2016, the District Court tried Sabisch on the sole count of fourth-degree sex offense. It was alleged that Sabisch had sexual intercourse with a fourteen-year-old girl and that he was at least four years older than she was. See Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law (2002, 2012 Repl. Vol., 2015 Supp.) § 3-308(b)(3) ("A person may not engage in ... vaginal intercourse with another if the victim is 14 or 15 years old, and the person performing the act is at least 4 years older than the victim.").

On October 26, 2016, Sabisch appeared, without counsel, in the District Court for the first time, seeking a postponement of the trial date. When Sabisch's case was called, the prosecutor explained that the State was not opposed to a postponement. The District Court asked Sabisch whether he had heard the court "explain the importance of having an attorney to the other" defendants who preceded him on the court's docket, and Sabisch responded "[y]es." The District Court asked Sabisch: "What are you going to do about getting an attorney?" Sabisch responded that he had not "thought about it[,]" and the following exchange occurred:

THE COURT: All right. Well, you need to think about it. You need to either hire private counsel, pay them and have
466 Md. 334
them enter their appearance on your behalf. Or make application to the Office of the Public Defender if you cannot afford private counsel. That's their information, sir. You need to see them at that location in person that's listed there in Towson immediately. Don't wait. This week or next week. You would not want to come back without an attorney and attempt to represent yourself. It would
220 A.3d 276
not be in your interest; do you understand that, sir?

[SABISCH]: Yes.

(Paragraph breaks omitted).

Trial Proceedings in the District Court and Probation Before Judgment

On December 8, 2016, Sabisch appeared, without counsel, in the District Court for trial. The prosecutor advised the District Court that it was his "understanding [that] Sab[ ]i[s]ch [was] entering a guilty plea to his sole charge[,]" and Sabisch agreed that that was correct. At that time, the District Court gave Sabisch the following advisements:

THE COURT: Sir, the maximum possible penalty of this charge is one year in jail. The State is deferring to me. That[ ] means they're saying, Judge, it's up to you. I want you to understand I could still impose that maximum sentence. Do you understand that?

[ ] SAB[ ]I[S]CH: Yes.

THE COURT: Now, I want you to understand that you certainly don't have to plead guilty. You are entitled to either a judge or a jury trial. In either instance, what would happen is, the State would call in witnesses that they had.
...

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11 practice notes
  • Rogers v. State, No. 32, Sept. Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 31, 2020
    ...of Pub. Safety and Corr. Servs. v. Doe, 439 Md. 201, 219, 94 A.3d 791, 801 (2014) (" Doe II") (cleaned up).Recently, in Sabisch v. Moyer, 466 Md. 327, 350, 220 A.3d 272, 285 (2019), we set forth the following rules of statutory construction:The cardinal rule of statutory construction is to ......
  • E.N. v. T.R., No. 44, Sept. Term, 2020
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 12, 2021
    ...decisis , generally, a court must follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation." Sabisch v. Moyer, 466 Md. 327, 372 n. 11, 220 A.3d 272, 298 n.11 (2019) (cleaned up). We have explained, however, that stare decisis "is not absolute. Under [ ] two exception......
  • Rogers v. State, No. 32
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 31, 2020
    ...of Pub. Safety and Corr. Servs. v. Doe, 439 Md. 201, 219, 94 A.3d 791, 801 (2014) ("Doe II") (cleaned up). Recently, in Sabisch v. Moyer, 466 Md. 327, 350, 220 A.3d 272, 285 (2019), we set forth the following rules of statutory construction:The cardinal rule of statutory construction is to ......
  • E.N. v. T.R., No. 44
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 12, 2021
    ...decisis, generally, a court must follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation." Sabisch v. Moyer, 466 Md. 327, 372 n. 11, 220 A.3d 272, 298 n.11 (2019) (cleaned up). We have explained, however, that stare decisis "is not absolute. Under [] two exceptions ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Rogers v. State, No. 32, Sept. Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 31, 2020
    ...of Pub. Safety and Corr. Servs. v. Doe, 439 Md. 201, 219, 94 A.3d 791, 801 (2014) (" Doe II") (cleaned up).Recently, in Sabisch v. Moyer, 466 Md. 327, 350, 220 A.3d 272, 285 (2019), we set forth the following rules of statutory construction:The cardinal rule of statutory construction is to ......
  • E.N. v. T.R., No. 44, Sept. Term, 2020
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 12, 2021
    ...decisis , generally, a court must follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation." Sabisch v. Moyer, 466 Md. 327, 372 n. 11, 220 A.3d 272, 298 n.11 (2019) (cleaned up). We have explained, however, that stare decisis "is not absolute. Under [ ] two exception......
  • Rogers v. State, No. 32
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 31, 2020
    ...of Pub. Safety and Corr. Servs. v. Doe, 439 Md. 201, 219, 94 A.3d 791, 801 (2014) ("Doe II") (cleaned up). Recently, in Sabisch v. Moyer, 466 Md. 327, 350, 220 A.3d 272, 285 (2019), we set forth the following rules of statutory construction:The cardinal rule of statutory construction is to ......
  • E.N. v. T.R., No. 44
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 12, 2021
    ...decisis, generally, a court must follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation." Sabisch v. Moyer, 466 Md. 327, 372 n. 11, 220 A.3d 272, 298 n.11 (2019) (cleaned up). We have explained, however, that stare decisis "is not absolute. Under [] two exceptions ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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