BERLIN – The Office of the Public Defender is requesting the state’s appeals court uphold the lower court’s decision to dismiss charges against Tyler Mailloux.
Last Friday, the Office of the Public Defender filed its brief with the Appellate Court of Maryland on behalf of Mailloux, a local man who was charged earlier this year in the hit-and-run death of 14-year-old Gavin Knupp. In their filing, Public Defender Natasha Dartigue and Assistant Public Defender Celia Anderson Davis argued the Worcester County Circuit Court was correct in dismissing Mailloux’s charges at an Aug. 18 motions hearing.
“Mr. Mailloux’s view is that the court below properly determined that the charges filed fell with in the ‘exclusive original jurisdiction’ of the District Court as defined in the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, Section 4-301 …,” the appellee brief reads. “Given Maryland’s two-tiered trial court system, there could have been concurrent jurisdiction for trial of the misdemeanors and felonies charged, but not for charging them.”
During a motions hearing in August, Judge Brett Wilson granted a motion to dismiss the case against Mailloux in Worcester County Circuit Court over lack of jurisdiction, although he noted that charges could be refiled in district court. Immediately following the ruling, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office filed a notice to appeal.
“We appealed the judge’s decision in the Mailloux case because we think it is incorrect … and we believe the circuit court is the most appropriate court to hear the case,” Worcester County State’s Attorney Kris Heiser said earlier this month. “We have always charged these types of offenses in the circuit court, and have continued to do so since the judge’s decision in Mailloux was handed down.”
In April, 17 traffic charges – including failure to immediately stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury and failure to immediately stop a vehicle at the scene of an accident involving death – were filed against Mailloux, 23, of Berlin, in the death of Knupp last July.
Knupp, 14, was struck and killed by an unidentified motorist in a black Mercedes while crossing Greys Corner Road on July 11, 2022. Knupp was returning to a vehicle driven by his older sister and died from injuries sustained in the collision. Mailloux allegedly fled the scene and did not return, according to charges filed. Six days after the incident, the Mercedes identified as the vehicle in the collision was seized from a local home.
In circuit court this summer, Mailloux’s attorney, George Psoras, presented 12 motions for the court’s consideration, including a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. While he argued the district court had jurisdiction over the traffic charges filed in his client’s case, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office argued state statute provided exceptions allowing the case to be tried in circuit court. The circuit court judge ultimately ruled in favor of the motion to dismiss, and the case was appealed to the Appellate Court of Maryland.
When the Office of the Attorney General filed its brief with the appellate court last month, it set in motion a 30-day window for Mailloux and his attorney to respond. In the appellee brief filed last Friday, the Office of the Public Defender argued the state misconstrued the relevant statutes that it claimed gave both the district and circuit courts concurrent jurisdiction over all charges filed in the case. The appellee opined that the “plain language” of the statute indicates charges in the case should have been filed in district court.
“Under Maryland’s two-tiered trial court system, the circuit court could have properly obtained jurisdiction over the charges in this case if the criminal information had first been filed in the District Court …,” the brief reads.
The Office of the Public Defender added that the state did not meet the exceptions that allowed the case to be tried in circuit court.
“An offense may be tried in the circuit court on a criminal information under section (c) of this Rule if a defendant requests or consents in writing to being charged by information or if a defendant prays a jury trial from the District Court,” the brief reads. “Neither of these two things had happened in this case before the August 18, 2023 hearing. The trial judge below properly concluded that the charges should have been filed in District Court.”
The Office of the Public Defender said the state’s decision to file charges in circuit court deprived Mailloux of his right to choose where and how he would be tried.
“It also interfered with Mr. Mailloux’s Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights,” the brief reads.
The appellee asked that the Appellate Court of Maryland hear oral arguments and uphold the circuit court’s decision to dismiss the charges.
“The prosecutor should have filed the criminal information in this case in the District Court,” the brief reads. “The trial judge properly recognized this and correctly granted defense counsel’s motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction. For the foregoing reasons, Mr. Mailloux respectfully requests that this Court affirm the judgement of the court below.”
With both briefs now filed, the Appellate Court of Maryland will review the case and schedule oral arguments before issuing a written decision.