Supreme Court Oral Argument Schedule


Maine Supreme Judicial Court
Sitting as the Law Court

Caution: This schedule is subject to change. The case synopses are prepared for the convenience of the public and are not to be construed as statements of the court.

Audio stream of oral arguments available.

As a service to the public, the Supreme Judicial Court provides live streaming of its oral arguments, and streaming of recordings of oral arguments for approximately two weeks after the week of arguments. To listen, go to our streaming page.

 

April 2014 SESSION
At the Cumberland County Courthouse, Portland

 

Monday, April 7, 2014

  10:00 a.m.
And-13-320 Wendell Strout Jr. v. Central Maine Medical Center
   

Attorneys: Scott J. Lynch, Christopher D. Nyhan, Elizabeth A. Campbell

Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) appeals from a judgment on a jury verdict entered in the Superior Court in favor of Wendell Strout, Jr., in his medical malpractice action against CMMC.  CMMC argues that the court erred by admitting in evidence one sentence of a letter from a hospital administrator to Strout indicating that the physician who incorrectly informed Strout that he likely had only a few months to live realized that he should have waited for biopsy results before sharing his clinical impressions with Strout.  CMMC argues that this statement is inadmissible pursuant to 24 M.R.S. § 2907 (2013), which provides that statements made by a health care provider or practitioner expressing “apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, or a general sense of benevolence” to an alleged victim are inadmissible in any civil action for professional negligence.  Strout argues that the portion of the letter admitted by the court constitutes a statement of fault and thus is not subject to exclusion pursuant to section 2907.  CMMC further argues that the court should have excluded the statement pursuant to M.R. Evid. 403 because its probative value was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice and misleading the jury, and that the statement was inadmissible pursuant to M.R. Evid. 408 because it was part of an offer to compromise.

       
  10:50 a.m.
Pen-13-340 State of Maine v. Michael W. Chapman
   

Attorneys: Tracy Collins Lacher, Seth D. Harrow

The State of Maine appeals from a judgment of acquittal entered by the trial court in favor of Defendant Michael W. Chapman following a jury verdict finding him guilty of arson (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 802(1)(A) (2013).  On appeal, the State argues that the court erred in ordering such judgment because there was sufficient evidence in the record for a rational jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Chapman, either as a principal or as an accomplice, committed arson. 

 

     
  11:40 a.m.
Kno-13-251
Christine M. Starrett v. Irven G. Starrett
   

Attorneys: David M. Lipman, James T. Lawley, Steven C. Peterson

Christine M. Starrett appeals from a judgment entered in the District Court (Rockland, Worth, J.) denying in part and granting in part her motion for additional findings and to amend the court’s divorce judgment.  She challenges the divorce judgment as amended, arguing that the court erred or abused its discretion in its distribution of property and spousal award by (1) miscalculating the value of the Irv’s Drywall business, (2) misevaluating Irven’s and Christine’s respective incomes, and (3) improperly delegating the valuation of contested marital real estate to Irven. 

 





1:15 p.m.
Ken-13-71
Linda Clifford v. MaineGeneral Medical Center et al





Attorneys: Curtis Webber, Patricia C. Shorey, Christopher C. Tainter, Mark C. Joyce

Scott Kemmerer appeals from the Superior Court's denial of a motion for summary judgment on Clifford's complaint against him alleging that he deprived her of liberty without due process and subjected her to an unreasonable search in violation of the Maine Civil Rights Act (MCRA), 5 M.R.S. § 4682(1-A) (2013). Kemmerer contends that he is immune from Clifford's MCRA claims by virtue of his status as a governmental employee within the meaning of the Maine Tort Claims Act, 14 M.R.S. § 8111(1)(C) (2013), and because his actions were lawful. The Superior Court also reported two interlocutory questions: (1) whether, as a matter of law, Kemmerer's conduct is actionable under the Maine Human Rights Act, 5 M.R.S. §§ 4551-4634 (2013), and (2) whether MaineGeneral Medical Center may be held liable under the MCRA for the wrongful acts of its employees.










2:05 p.m.
Wal-12-522 State of Maine v. Luke A. Bryant




Attorneys: Lauren F. LaRochelle, Steven C. Peterson

Luke A. Bryant appeals from a judgment of conviction of one count of manslaughter entered in the Superior Court upon a finding of guilty by the jury.  Bryant argues that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements he made to the police following a shooting at his residence.  Bryant contends that his statements should have been suppressed because they were made during a custodial interrogation without the benefit of Miranda warnings, and because Bryant was in a state of shock and extreme distress that rendered his statements involuntary.

 







  2:55 p.m. Som-13-157 State of Maine v. Robert L. Nelson
   

Attorneys: Donald W. Macomber, Philip G. Mohlar

Robert L. Nelson appeals from a judgment of conviction for murder, 17‑A M.R.S. § 201(1)(A) (2013), and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (Class C), 15 M.R.S. § 393(1)(A‑1)(3), (8) (2013) entered by the court after a jury-waived trial. Nelson argues that there is insufficient evidence in the record to support his conviction for murder.

 



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  9:00 a.m. BCD-13-300 Pike Industires, Inc. v. City of Westbrook et al
   

Attorneys: Sigmund D. Schutz, Jonathan G. Mermin, William L. Plouffe, David P. Silk, Benjamin M. Leoni, Natalie L. Burns

Smiling Hill Farm appeals the Superior Court’s final approval of a consent decree settling litigation between Pike Industries, IDEXX Laboratories and the City of Westbrooke regarding Pike’s right to engage in mineral extraction at its property in Westbrook.  Smiling Hill Farm argues that the court erred as a matter of law when it approved the consent decree because the decree creates an illegal contract zone that prevents the City of Westbrook from, at any point in the future, enforcing land use regulations at Pike’s property that conflict with the decree.


     
  9:50 a.m. Kno-13-385 Franklin Higgins v. Department of Corrections
   

Attorneys: Kevin Decker, E. James Burke, Diane E. Sleek

The Department of Corrections appeals from a judgment entered in the Superior Court vacating the Department’s decision to continue Franklin Higgins’s administrative segregation status at Maine State Prison. The Department argues that the court erred in concluding that there was insufficient evidence in the record to support Higgins’s administrative segregation status. Higgins argues that this appeal should be dismissed for two reasons.  Higgins argues that the Department failed to timely file its notice of appeal and that the court’s decision is now moot because he was returned to the general population in April 2013.






10:40 a.m.
Han-13-315
Cum-13-381
Samsara Memorial Trust v. Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman
Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman v. Raisin Memorial Trust




Attorneys: John H Branson, Jennifer A. Archer

Raisin Memorial Trust (Raisin), Samsara Memorial Trust (Samsara), and Fauna Stone appeal from a default judgment entered in the Superior Court on Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman (KRZ)’s complaint alleging fraudulent transfer.  Raisin, Samsara, and Stone contend that the judgment should be vacated because (1) the presiding judge improperly failed to recuse himself from the case, (2) the court abused its discretion in entering default judgment against them as a sanction for discovery violations, (3) the court erred in awarding damages pursuant to Maine’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, (4) the court erred in enjoining further transfers of the property at issue, and (5) the court abused its discretion in denying their requests for a continuance.  Samsara Memorial Trust also appeals from a judgment entered in the Superior Court dismissing its complaint against KRZ, on the grounds that the court abused its discretion in setting aside KRZ’s default.




     
  11:20 a.m. Cum-13-347 Christine S. Angell V. Renald C. Hallee
   

Attorneys: Sumner H. Lipman, James T. Lawley, Russell B. Pierce Jr.

Christine S. Angell appeals from a summary judgment entered in the Superior Court in favor of Renald C. Hallee, on Angell’s complaint alleging that Hallee sexually abused her as a child when he was a Roman Catholic priest in Bangor in the early 1970s.  Angell contends that the court should have either (1) tolled the applicable two-year statute of limitation for intentional torts, 14 M.R.S. § 753 (1965), because the record fails to demonstrate that Hallee was amenable to service while residing out of state and that Angell could have discovered his whereabouts through the Diocese, see 14 M.R.S. § 866 (2013), or (2) denied Hallee’s motion for summary judgment because there are genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the Diocese would have assisted Angell in locating Hallee for service.

 

 
 
     
  1:15 p.m. Kno-13-302 State of Maine v. David R.Beal
   

Attorneys: Jeffrey E. Baroody, James M. Mason

David R. Beal appeals from a judgment of conviction of aggravated assault (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 208(1)(A) (2013), entered by the trial court following a jury trial.  On appeal, Beal argues that the trial court (1) abused its discretion in declining to ask potential jurors a question that he proposed during initial voir dire, (2) erred in denying his request to excuse a potentially biased juror during trial, and (3) committed obvious error in failing to question the jury or declare a mistrial after being informed by the jury officer that some jurors were discussing the case before all twelve jurors were present.

 

 
 
     
  2:05 p.m. Yor-13-355 Robert W. Bassett et al. v. City of Biddeford et al
   

Attorneys: David P. Silk, Benjamin M. Leoni, SandraL. Guay, John C. Bannon

Robert and Dorothy Bassett appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court (York County) affirming two decisions of the Biddeford Zoning Board of Appeals in which the Board approved the application of Michael and Jodie Small to build a residential unit atop their existing nonconforming garage. The Bassetts argue that the Smalls' application does not meet applicable ordinance requirements, and that the Smalls were impermissibly allowed to appeal the Board's decision in their favor.

 

 
 
     
  2:55 p.m. And-13-440 Estate of Ruth E. O'Brien-Hamel
   

Attorneys: Jason Dionne, William H. Childs

Jennifer Edmondson appeals from an order of the Probate Court denying Edmondson’s petition for a formal adjudication of intestacy and for appointment of Edmondson as personal representative of the estate of her mother, Ruth E. O’Brien-Hamel.  Edmondson contends that the Probate Court erred or abused its discretion in finding that O’Brien‑Hamel had the requisite testamentary capacity to make a will, and in permitting the personal representative to present the testimony of O’Brien-Hamel’s hospice care physician, despite failing to timely or properly designate the physician as an expert.

 

 
 
     

 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  9:00 a.m.
Yor-13-404 Bank of New York Mellon N.A. v. Re/Max Realty One
   

Attorneys: Matthew W. Howell, Elizabeth G. Stouder, Joseph L. Cahoon, Jr.

Re/Max Realty One appeals from the Superior Court's entry of summary judgments in favor of the Bank of New York Mellon on the Bank's breach of contract claim and on Re/Max's claim for contractual indemnification and attorney fees. Re/Max contends that the court erred in granting the Bank summary judgment on its breach of contract claim because the unambiguous language of the listing agreement between the Bank and Re/Max obligates the Bank to divide any forfeited earnest money with Re/Max. Re/Max further argues that if this Court vacates the judgment of the Superior Court and enters a judgment in favor of Re/Max, that it is contractually entitled to indemnification and attorney fees. The Bank argues that the court correctly concluded that the money it received as a result of mediation with defaulting buyer did not constitute a forfeiture, and thus Re/Max breached its obligations under the listing agreement by retaining a portion of the funds held in escrow.


       
  9:50 a.m.
Fra-12-490 State of Maine v. Julia Peck
   

Attorneys: Andrew S. Robinson, Tawny L. Alvarez

Julia Peck appeals from a judgment entered in the District Court finding that Peck violated Maine’s cruelty-to-animals statute, 7 M.R.S. § 4011(1) (2013), and related orders imposing fines and restitution on Peck and ordering that Peck not possess any animals other than two spayed or neutered cats.  Peck contends that the record contains insufficient evidence to support a finding of cruelty to animals; that the court abused its discretion in quashing a subpoena to summon one of her witnesses; that the cruelty-to-animals statute is unconstitutionally vague; and that there was insufficient evidence to support the court’s restitution order.

 

     
  10:40 a.m.
Kno-13-275
Glenn A. Griffin v. Cristie J. Griffin
   

Attorneys: Philip S. Cohen, Kelley E. Mellenthin

Cristie J. Griffin appeals from a divorce judgment entered in the District Court that, among other things, awarded primary residence of the parties' young child to Glenn A. Griffin with rights of contact to Cristie. Cristie argues that (1) the court erred in denying her motion in limine and permitting Glenn to play recordings at trial that he had made of telephone conversations between Cristie and the child because the recordings were made in violation of Maine's wiretap laws, 15 M.R.S. §§ 709-713 (2013), and were not original, complete, or authenticated; (2) the court erred in not disqualifying the guardian ad litem's report because the GAL failed to conduct a thorough investigation and to address the statutorily required factors regarding the best interests of the child, see 19-A M.R.S. § 1507(6) (2013), and because the report discusses the recordings that the court erroneously failed to exclude at trial; (3) the court erred as a matter of law when it prohibited Cristie from examining the GAL about the contents of her report at trial; (4) the court erroneously ordered Cristie to pay a portion of the GAL's fees without determining the reasonableness of those fees or finding that Cristie has the ability to pay that portion of the fees; and (5) the court erred when it ordered the GAL to approve Cristie's counselor.

 





11:20 a.m.
OXF-13-332
John A. Thurston et al. v. Jenny G. Galvin





Attorneys: John S. Jenness Jr., Donald A. Fowler Jr.

Jenny Galvin appeals from a judgment entered in the District Court (Rumford, Oram, J.) in favor of John and Patricia Thurston. The court found Galvin in default of the terms of a land installment contract, and foreclosed her rights in the contract. Galvin contends that the Thurstons cannot bring a foreclosure action against her because the parties' contract did not satisfy the minimum statutory requirements for land installment contracts. She also contends that the court erred when it failed to abide by the statutory requirements for foreclosure proceedings by civil action.










1:15 p.m.
Cum-13-502 Friends of Congress Square et al. v. City of Portland




Attorneys: Sarah A. McDaniel, Robert H. Levin, Danielle West-Chuhuta, Jennifer L. Thompson

The City of Portland appeals from a Rule 80B judgment entered in the Superior Court (Cumberland County, Wheeler, J.), vacating the City's refusal to issue petition forms for a citizens' initiative submitted by Friends of Congress Square Park and four Portland residents to amend the City's land bank ordinance. The City contends that the amendments are outside the scope of the citizens' initiative powers set forth in the city code because they are not legislative matters.








  2:05 p.m. Yor-13-330 State of Maine v. Thomas D. Johnson
   

Attorneys: Ann Marie Pazar, Clifford B. Strike.

Thomas D. Johnson was charged with domestic violence assault (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. § 207-A(1)(B)(3) (2013).  After the jury heard opening statements at his trial, the court granted Johnson’s request for a mistrial after finding manifest necessity based on references the prosecutor made to information contained in late discovery provided to the defense.  Johnson appeals from an order of the court denying his motion to dismiss the prosecution on the ground of double jeopardy.

     
  2:55 p.m. Yor-12-599 Robert F. Almeder et al. v. Town of Kennebunkport et al.
   

Attorneys: Sidney St. F. Thaxter, David P. Silk, Benjamin M. Leoni, Christopher E. Pazar, Amy K. Tchao, Brian D. Willing, David M. Kallin, Paul Stern

The Town of Kennebunkport and the State of Maine have filed motions for reconsideration of this Court's decision in Almeder v. Town of Kennebunkport, 2014 ME 12, --- A.3d ---, issued on February 4, 2014. The Town and the State argue that this Court should reconsider its decision declining to address the application of the public-trust doctrine to Goose Rocks Beach. The Town also argues that this Court should reconsider its decision determining that the Town failed to establish the existence of a public prescriptive easement as a matter of law.