ANNAPOLIS – The Court of Special Appeals upheld a Dorchester County man’s cocaine possession conviction Friday, rejecting his argument that a juror should have revealed that her husband’s cousin had a drug problem.
A three-judge panel of the court found that the cousin’s drug problems were a “secret” to the juror — even though he lived with her, she drove him to drug and alcohol treatment and knew he was on probation.
Attorneys for Calvin Junior Wilcox had charged that Lydia Elliott intentionally omitted the information about her cousin from a juror questionnaire and that should have nullified her as a juror in the case.
“By not answering that question properly, she was unqualified as a juror,” said defense attorney John L. Kopolow.
Wilcox was tried in Dorchester County Circuit Court in April 1997 on charges of cocaine possession, assault, wreckless driving and destruction of property, among others. Before the trial, potential jurors were asked if they had a “close friend or family member who has been charged with possession of drugs or who has had a problem with drugs.”
Four potential jurors answered yes, but Elliott did not. She was seated on the jury that eventually convicted Wilcox on at least six counts, including possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of cocaine.
After the trial, Wilcox said he saw Elliott visiting Roy Everidge, her husband’s first cousin, who was being held at the Dorchester County Detention Center for violating his probation from an earlier conviction for possession of cocaine.
Wilcox asked for a new trial, saying that Elliott and Everidge were related, that Everidge was a drug user, and that Elliott knew about Everidge’s drug use before she became a juror in Wilcox’s case.
At a hearing on the motion for a new trial, Everidge testified that Elliott knew he was on probation for cocaine possession and burglary when he moved in with her and her husband in December 1996.
“She knew it,” Everidge said, when asked if he had told her directly that he was on probation for cocaine possession. “She picked me up from the Dorchester County Jail the day I was released.”
He said Elliott also drove him to and from the drug and alcohol programs and urinalysis sessions that were part of his probation.
But on cross-examination, Everidge said he lied to the Elliotts about his drug use at the time and drug-positive urinalysis and that his drug problems were a “secret” to Elliott.
Elliott she only knew that Everidge was on probation and she thought she was taking him to alcohol counseling.
“To my knowledge, [Everidge’s probation] had something to do with breaking and entering,” Elliott testified. “I never knew. It was none of my business.”
Had she known about Everidge’s drug problem, she would have said so on the juror questionnaire, Elliott said.
Judge Donald F. Johnson denied Wilcox’s motion for a new trial, saying he believed Elliott did not know about Everidge’s drug problems when she was selected as a juror. She did not show bias in the case, he said.
The appellate court affirmed Johnson’s decision, saying Elliott did not intentionally withhold facts in the juror questioning.
“There was nothing in the fact of Mr. Everidge’s probation, or Ms. Elliott’s having driven him to classes and meetings that would necessarily inform Ms. Elliott that Mr. Everidge was a drug user,” Judge Theodore Bloom wrote in his opinion.
Gary Bair, chief of the criminal appeals division at the Attorney General’s Office, said his office was happy with the appellate court’s decision.