State v. Sirbaugh

Decision Date27 June 1975
Docket NumberNo. 818,818
Citation27 Md.App. 290,339 A.2d 697
PartiesSTATE of Maryland v. John Rolland SIRBAUGH.
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

Alexander L. Cummings, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom were Francis B. Burch, Atty. Gen., Arthur A. Marshall, Jr., State's Atty., for Prince George's County and Richard Arnold, Asst. State's Atty., for Prince George's County, on the brief, for appellant.

Marvin B. Miller, Greenbelt, with whom were Blackwell, Miller, Markey & Hoffman, Greenbelt, on the brief, for appellee.

Argued before MORTON, DAVIDSON and MOORE, JJ.

MORTON, Judge.

The appellee, John Rolland Sirbaugh, was charged in a seven-count criminal information with manslaughter by automobile and various other motor vehicle violations. His case came on for trial before a jury in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County (McCullough, J., presiding). At the conclusion of the entire case, Sirbaugh made a motion for judgment of acquittal. The trial judge announced: 'I am going to reserve ruling on your motion.' The case thereupon was submitted to the jury.

After the jury had been deliberating several hours, the trial judge was advised that one of the members had become ill and could not continue to participate in the deliberations. According to the transcript:

'(* * * At 9:30 o'clock p.m. a note was sent from the jury after which Court reconvened and the following proceedings were had before the Court and the Jury)

THE COURT: Counsel, it's obvious to me after seeing Mrs. Turman's physically unable to continue to serve on this jury. It therefore appears we only have eleven jurors, and the State and the Defendant are entitled to a verdict of twelve jurors.

I do not believe the Court need respond to the note from the jury, because the Court sees no other alternative other than to declare this a mistrial, and the Court does declare this to be a mistrial and discharges you, Mr. Foreman and ladies and gentlemen of the jury, from your service in this case.

'(Whereupon the jury left the courtroom, after which the following proceedings were had)

THE COURT: Now, the Court at the conclusion of the case reserved ruling on the defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal. The Court concludes that the accident, that the death of Patricia Ann Clark was as a result of the injuries she sustained in this accident. The Court further concludes that this vehicle driven by the defendant, Mr. John Rolland Sirbaugh, was the vehicle that caused the injuries sustained by Miss Clark that resulted in her death.

In reviewing the evidence the Court is unable to find that the defendant was speeding or that speed was a factor in this accident, and from all of the facts the Court is unable to conclude that the manner in which the defendant operated the car would constitute gross negligence and that the conduct of the defendant does not amount to the wanton or reckless disregard of human life or for the rights of others.

Accordingly, the Court will grant the defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal on the first count of the indictment, manslaughter by automobile, and deny the motion for judgment of acquittal on all of the remaining counts.

Mr. Bailiff, you may announce adjournment of court.'

Sometime later the State filed a one-count criminal information charging Sirbaugh, as it had under the first count of the original information, with manslaughter by automobile. Sirbaugh filed a motion to dismiss the second information on the ground of double jeopardy. After a hearing in open court, Judge William B. Bowie granted Sirbaugh's motion to dismiss the information. The State has taken this appeal contending that it was error to grant the motion to dismiss on the ground of double jeopardy.

In the brief submitted to this Court, appellee Sirbaugh states:

'The Appellee finds no quarrel with the Appellant's argument regarding the State's right to appeal or with the Appellant's argument that the Double Jeopardy prohibition of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution applies to the State of Maryland. Nor does the Appellee take exception to the Appellant's argument as to when jeopardy attaches as established in the cases of Blondes v. State, 19 Md.App. 714, 314 A.2d 746, and Neal v. State, 272 Md. 323, 322 A.2d 887. Further, the Appellee agrees that normally, '* * * jeopardy is dissipated by the declaration of a mistrial, in the absence of any abuse of discretion.' Neal v. State, 272 Md. 327, 322 A.2d 887.

Furthermore, the Appellee concedes that Judge McCullough acted properly in declaring a mistrial because of the illness of one of the jurors.

Thus, we are left with the ultimate question in this appeal: Did the trial Judge have the power to grant the Appellee's Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal after declaring a mistrial, where the trial judge had taken the Motion under advisement.'


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7 cases
  • Harrison v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • October 7, 1975 the State in its answer and supplements to the appellant's motion for discovery under Maryland Rule 728 a 3.6 See State v. Sirbaugh, Md.App., 339 A.2d 697 (1975), holding that Maryland Rule 563 is inapplicable to a criminal case and that a trial judge has no authority to reserve his ruli......
  • Malarkey v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • October 2, 2009
    ...the state failed to present a legally sufficient case and is barred from retrying the appellant. III. Whether State v. Sirbaugh, [27 Md.App. 290, 339 A.2d 697 (1975),] if still of any precedential value, should be overruled or, in the alternative, is not constitutionally valid as applied to......
  • Johnson v. State, 38, Sept. Term, 2016
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • April 26, 2017 our rule of permission for a trial judge to reserve ruling on a motion for judgment of acquittal was addressed in State v. Sirbaugh , 27 Md.App. 290, 339 A.2d 697 (1975), and Malarkey v. State , 188 Md.App. 126, 981 A.2d 675 (2009), in which the Court of Special Appeals rejected the tria......
  • State v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 29, 2016
    ...thing Monday morning[.]” He expressed his belief that there is a “significant distinction” between this case and [State v.] Sirbaugh [, 27 Md.App. 290, 339 A.2d 697 (1975) ] and Malarkey, despite reading those cases to “suggest that the granting of a Motion for Mistrial removes or takes jur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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