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State of Idaho v. Regina Amelia Maynard

March 8, 2013

STATE OF IDAHO,
PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
REGINA AMELIA MAYNARD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Darla S. Williamson, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gratton, Chief Judge

2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 395

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED OPINION AND SHALL NOT BE CITED AS AUTHORITY

Judgment of conviction for manufacturing a controlled substance, trafficking in marijuana, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia, affirmed.

Regina Amelia Maynard appeals from the judgment of conviction entered upon the jury verdict finding her guilty of manufacturing a controlled substance, trafficking in marijuana, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Specifically, Maynard challenges the district court's orders denying her motion for a mistrial and precluding her from cross-examining a witness about the potential penalties of the witness's criminal charges. We affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Maynard was arrested following the search of her house pursuant to a search warrant. The search revealed drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine, marijuana, and two rooms devoted to growing marijuana plants. Prior to trial, Maynard filed a motion in limine to preclude testimony that she was pushing a baby stroller at the time the warrant was executed. The State disagreed with the basis for the motion but, nonetheless, indicated that the State's witnesses would be advised not to mention the stroller. At trial, a police officer testified that prior to the search a detective "observed a female that was at the house with a baby stroller." Following the witness's testimony, defense counsel moved the court for a mistrial, claiming the statement "tainted" the jury. The district court denied the motion.

Later, the State called Maynard's mother, Christine, to the witness stand. Christine lived with Maynard and was facing similar criminal charges. During cross-examination, defense counsel asked Christine about a mandatory penalty associated with her charge of trafficking in marijuana. The State objected, asserting that the question violated a pretrial order admonishing the parties to refrain from mentioning potential penalties. The district court sustained the objection.

The jury found Maynard guilty of all charges. Consequently, the district court imposed a unified sentence of ten years with two years determinate. Maynard timely appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Motion for Mistrial

Maynard claims that the district court erred by denying her motion for mistrial based upon one incident of prosecutorial misconduct that occurred during her trial. In criminal cases, motions for mistrial are governed by Idaho Criminal Rule 29.1. A "mistrial may be declared upon motion of the defendant, when there occurs during the trial an error or legal defect in the proceedings, or conduct inside or outside the courtroom, which is prejudicial to the defendant and deprives the defendant of a fair trial." I.C.R. 29.1(a). Our standard for reviewing a district court's denial of a motion for mistrial is well established:

[T]he question on appeal is not whether the trial judge reasonably exercised his discretion in light of circumstances existing when the mistrial motion was made. Rather, the question must be whether the event which precipitated the motion for mistrial represented reversible error when viewed in the context of the full record. Thus, where a motion for mistrial has been denied in a criminal case, the "abuse of discretion" standard is a misnomer. The standard, more accurately stated, is one of reversible error. Our focus is upon the continuing impact on the trial of the incident that triggered the mistrial motion. The trial judge's refusal to declare a mistrial will be disturbed only if that incident, viewed retrospectively, constituted reversible error.

State v. Urquhart, 105 Idaho 92, 95, 665 P. 2d 1102, 1105 (Ct. App. 1983). Therefore, even after a finding of prosecutorial misconduct, a conviction will not be set aside for small errors or defects that have little, if any, likelihood of having changed the results of the trial. State v. Martinez, 136 Idaho 521, 523, 37 P.3d 18, 20 (Ct. App. 2001); State v. Pecor, 132 Idaho 359, 367-68, 972 P.2d 737, 745-46 (Ct. App. 1998). Where prosecutorial misconduct is shown, the test for harmless error is whether the appellate court can conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the result of the trial would not have been different absent the misconduct. Martinez, 136 Idaho at 523, 37 P.3d at 20; Pecor, 132 Idaho at 368, 972 P.2d at 746.*fn1

In this case, Maynard claims that the prosecutor committed misconduct when a police officer testified that Maynard was seen pushing a baby stroller.*fn2 The relevant testimony was as follows:

PROSECUTOR: Prior to the actual search and execution of the warrant, what, if anything, did you do?

WITNESS: There was a--one of our detectives was conducting surveillance while we were sort of getting ready. Then he observed a female that was at the house with a baby stroller.

PROSECUTOR: Let me stop you there. . .

Following the officer's testimony, defense counsel moved the district court for a mistrial based on the officer's statement regarding the baby stroller. Defense counsel argued that the statement constituted misconduct because it was in contravention of the district court's granting ...


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