372 F.2d 742 (4th Cir. 1967)
Tags: Criminal law, Due process
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Rodger Wyley, a state prisoner, appealed his conviction on the grounds that Article XV, section 5 of the Maryland Constitution, which allows the jury to determine both the law and the facts in a criminal trial, violated his due process and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court dismissed his petition based on a previous Supreme Court case, Giles v. Maryland, which had also questioned the constitutionality of section 5 but was dismissed for lack of a substantial federal question. The Court of Appeals of Maryland has consistently upheld the constitutionality of Article XV, section 5, which grants this power to the jury. The appellant argues that allowing the jury to be the judges of both law and fact in a criminal trial violates his due process rights and denies him equal protection under the law. However, the Maryland court clarified that juries in criminal cases are not completely unrestricted. Judges have certain powers to restrain juries, which serve as a counterbalance.
The trial judge has the power to determine the admissibility of evidence, competency of witnesses, and legal sufficiency of evidence. The judge can also direct a verdict of acquittal or for the defendant if the evidence is insufficient. Juries cannot pass on the constitutionality of a statute. Article XV, section 5 of the Maryland Constitution, which allows the jury to determine both the law and the facts in a criminal trial, has been upheld by the state court and the Supreme Court of the United States. However, several Maryland jurists have argued against the wisdom of the provision and have advocated for its repeal or modification.
Critics of Article XV, section 5 of the Maryland Constitution, which allows the jury to determine both the law and the facts in a criminal trial, have not claimed that it violates the federal constitution. The origin of the doctrine is uncertain, and opponents argue that it is no longer necessary. Maryland is considering deleting section 5 from its constitution, and a subcommittee has recommended this step. The court is reluctant to intervene in this matter, and in this case, the court finds no justification for disturbing the District Court's order of dismissal. The decision is affirmed.
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