Yopps v. State, 212

Decision Date23 March 1962
Docket NumberNo. 212,212
Citation228 Md. 204,178 A.2d 879
PartiesArnold YOPPS v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Norman N. Yankellow, Baltimore (Joseph Rosenthal, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant.

John J. Schuchman, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen. (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., Joseph D. Buscher, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Saul A. Harris, State's Atty., and Charles E. Moylan, Jr., Asst. State's Atty. of Baltimore City, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellee.



The appellant, Arnold Yopps, was indicted for burglary. He entered a plea of not guilty and was tried before the court without a jury, Judge Joseph L. Carter presiding. He was found guilty and sentenced to serve ten years in the Maryland Penitentiary.

On this appeal from the judgment and sentence he presents the sole question, did the trial court commit prejudicial error in failing to permit counsel to state his arguments on behalf of the defendant.

The appellant testified in his own behalf and admitted being in the vicinity of the property burglarized, but denied any complicity in the crime. At the close of all of the testimony the following colloquy occurred:

'Mr. Rosenthal (Defense counsel): Step down.

'The Court: Anything else?

'Mr. Rosenthal: That is our case, your Honor.

'The Court: Any rebuttal?

'Mr. Moylan (Assistant State's Attorney): No, your Honor.

'The Court: The verdict is guilty.

* * *

* * *

'Mr. Rosenthal: You didn't even ask me for argument in this case to point out the fact that these, that whoever saw these people there never saw them carrying anything back and forth.

'The Court: It is a question of balancing the testimony of what I heard from these witnesses as against his, who I believe, and perfectly obvious who I must believe under the circumstances.

'Mr. Rosenthal: You are not giving the benefit of the doubt.

'The Court: Wouldn't change my mind about it.

'Mr. Rosenthal: You must have corpus delicti of some kind and the explanation is reasonable.

'The Court: I don't think it is, Mr. Rosenthal. Maybe they will disagree with me upstairs and you have a right to go up there.

'Mr. Rosenthal: All right, sir * * *.'

The appellant contends that this action by the trial court had the effect of refusing to allow counsel to present argument and constituted a denial of his right to the assistance of counsel as provided in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and preserved by Article 21 of the Declaration of Rights of Maryland.

The Constitutional right of a defendant to be heard through counsel necessarily includes his right to have his counsel make a proper argument on the evidence and the applicable law in his favor, however simple, clear, unimpeached, and conclusive the evidence may seem, unless he has waived his right to such argument, or unless the argument is not within the issues in the case, and the trial court has no discretion to deny accused such right. 23A C.J.S. Criminal Law § 1082; Aladdin Oil Burner Corp. v. Worton, 117 N.J.L. 260, 187 A. 350. Of course this does not preclude the trial court from checking argument foreign to the issues of the case and to prevent needless repetition when it is manifest that the discussion is complete. The Court may in its discretion limit the time to be consumed by counsel in argument, and the only restriction is that reasonable time for argument must be allowed counsel. What constitutes reasonable time depends on the circumstances of each case and is within the trial court's discretion. This discretion is not ordinarily subject to review by an appellate court unless the time allowed is plainly arbitrary and amounts to an abuse of discretion. Comi v. State, 202 Md. 472, 97 A.2d 129; 3 Am.Jur., Appeal and Error, § 973; 53 Am.Jur., Trial, § 461; cf. Shedlock v. Marshall, 186 Md. 218, 225, 46 A.2d 349.

The question presented here has not previously been presented for our consideration. However, in the case of Comi v. State, supra, the contention of the defendant that the trial court's limitation on argument was so unreasonable as to amount to a denial of due process was not sustained, but this Court at page 481, 97 A.2d at page 132 noted that 'the need for expedition can never justify a denial of a reasonable opportunity to present the defendant's case * * *.'

In Thompson, Trials (2d ed.) § 921, it is said:

'In criminal cases the right of accused persons to be defended by counsel is a right of a very high nature, which is guaranteed by the constitution of the United States and by the constitutions of most of the States. Under these...

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  • 45 593 Herring v. New York 8212 6587
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 30, 1975
    ...criminal trial is a denial of the basic right of the accused to make his defense.9 One of many cases so holding was Yopps v. State, 228 Md. 204, 178 A.2d 879 (1962). The defendant in that case, indicted for burglary, was tried by the court without a jury. The defendant in his testimony admi......
  • Spence v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • August 10, 1983
    ...to the United States Constitution as applied to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment. We recognized the right in Yopps v. State, 228 Md. 204, 178 A.2d 879 (1962). In that case the trial judge had entered the verdict at the close of the defendant's case. Defense counsel brought to the cour......
  • State v. Frost
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • June 28, 2007
    ...case, and the trial court has no discretion to deny the accused such right." 422 U.S. at 860, 95 S.Ct. 2550 (quoting Yopps v. State, 228 Md. 204, 207, 178 A.2d 879 (1962)). Admittedly, the State's evidence of accomplice liability in this case was particularly strong. Yet there remained an e......
  • Washington v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 1, 2008
    ...228 (1986); Biglari v. State, 156 Md.App. 657, 673, 847 A.2d 1239, cert. denied, 382 Md. 686, 856 A.2d 723 (2004). In Yopps v. State, 228 Md. 204, 207, 178 A.2d 879 (1962), the Court The Constitutional right of a defendant to be heard through counsel necessarily includes his right to have h......
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