One of my favorite appellate judges -- based solely on his prose -- has opined on a burglary case out of Harford County.
The suspect, convicted of breaking into a friend's home in 2009 as they vacationed in New York, wanted the Court of Special Appeals to throw out the case based on several factors, such a whether the judge erred in allowing the jury to hear certain evidence, and whether the facts presented were legally sufficient for a guilty finding.
The defendant didn't dispute his conviction of theft, but said first-degree burglary conviction, which landed him 20 years in prison, was out of line. The judge, Charles E. Moylan Jr., ruled in the state's favor, upholding the conviction of Brett Russell Molter.
The key was whether a logical inference could be made that because Molter was found in possession of the stolen goods, that he had been the one who stole them. He was a friend of the victims, had been inside their home in the past and knew they would be out of town.
Moylan, who has a penchant for flowery writing, opened his 31-page opinion this way:
"Suppose that Scotland Yard, in late 1888, could have established that an otherwise innocuous denizen of London's Whitechapel neighborhood had been in the unexplained possession of a locket worn no more than two or three days earlier by one of the victims of Jack the Ripper. How far might the Crown have gone with the resulting inference? It is just such an inference, and the reach of its inferential potency, that is the primary focus of this appeal."
For a full dose of Moylan, read his opinion in this case here. Here a section that sums up some of the case:
Continue reading ""Jack the Ripper" and a Harford County burglary" »