Drug conviction reversed for undisclosed confidential informant identity, and improper use of the inevitable discovery doctrine
By Jon Katz, a criminal defense lawyer and DWI/ DUI/ Drunk Driving lawyer advocating in Fairfax County, Virginia, Montgomery County, Maryland, and beyond for the best possible results for his clients. https://katzjustice.com
Today, Maryland’s highest court unanimously reversed the Court of Special Appeals’ affirmance of a drug felony conviction, finding that the lower appellate court erred in applying the inevitable discovery doctrine sua sponte without a clearer record; the trial court erred in refusing to compel the disclosure of the case’s sole confidential informant, where such disclosure was essential for the defendant’s defense; the defendant had been unlawfully arrested (with his car key seized and used to open his marijuana-filled trunk) and not merely Terry-stopped by the police; and probable cause was not provided by the insufficiently corroborated tip of the confidential informant that the defendant would be arriving at a shopping center with a large amount of marijuana, where the police did not see any evidence of a possible transaction with the defendant.
Elliott v. Maryland, ___ Md. ___ (Dec. 21, 2010).
Elliott will be essential reading for all Maryland cases involving the above issues.