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Martin v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

February 10, 2017

Larry Joe Martin
v.
State of Alabama

         Appeal from Madison Circuit Court (CC-14-3830)

          JOINER, JUDGE.

         Larry Joe Martin was convicted of second-degree assault, see § 13A-6-21, Ala. Code 1975, and was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment; that sentence was split for Martin to serve 6 months' detention in the Huntsville-Madison County Metro Jail followed by 3 years' supervised probation. The circuit court ordered Martin to pay a $2, 500 fine, a $175 bail-bond fee, a $100 crime-victims-compensation assessment, court costs, and attorney's fees.

         The case-action-summary sheet included in the record indicates that Martin was arrested on August 10, 2013, that he was formally indicted on August 29, 2014, and that his trial was set for March 7, 2016. Beginning as early as August 20, 2015, Martin made several motions in this case--specifically: (1) a written motion in limine and objection to the State's notice of intent to introduce evidence of Martin's prior convictions and other prior bad acts; (2) two written motions to suppress certain evidence; (3) an oral motion requesting a mental-health examination; (4) and, on March 4, 2016, a motion asserting the affirmative defense of self-defense. On the morning of March 7, 2016, the State filed a motion for discovery and its certification of compliance with Rule 16.1, Ala. R. Crim. P. In response, Martin filed a motion requesting, for the first time, a pretrial immunity hearing as provided for in Harrison v. State, 203 So.3d 126 (Ala.Crim.App.2016).

         The circuit court addressed Martin's motion for an immunity hearing immediately before trial commenced. In support of his motion, Martin argued: "For good cause, I would show that I just received information that relates to self-defense." In response, the State argued: (1) that the motion--filed 23 minutes before voir dire was scheduled to commence--was untimely and (2) that it had not received the necessary notice to prepare for a pretrial immunity hearing. The circuit court denied the motion and arraigned Martin. Before calling in the venire and commencing with voir dire, the circuit court stated:

"This case was called for trial this morning. At about between 11:00 and 11:15 I notified the lawyers that since I had additional pleas to take, that I would not be able to start the trial this morning, come back today at 1:00 and be ready to strike a jury and begin their trial. Apparently over the lunch break defense counsel filed a motion, pursuant to the self-defense statute, asking for an evidentiary hearing as to the issue of immunity. I am familiar with the Harrison v. State case, and based on the fact--of course, defense counsel, and even the defendant, isn't admitted to inject or create error in a process. Based on the fact that we have a jury standing outside ready to go, the request for an evidentiary hearing has been denied.
"Part of my job is to ensure that we have fair play and that both sides have a fair opportunity to present their side and also to administer the effective and efficient operation of the court. So in the future, if you have something like that, file it a little earlier."

(R. 9-10.) Martin objected to the circuit court's ruling.

         Martin was ultimately convicted of second-degree assault. Following his conviction and sentencing, Martin filed a motion for a new trial arguing, among other issues, that the circuit court had improperly denied his motion for a pretrial immunity hearing. The circuit court denied his new-trial motion.

         On appeal, Martin contends only that the circuit court erred when it denied as untimely his request for a pretrial immunity hearing.

Rule 15.3, Ala. R. Crim. P., provides:
"(a) Pre-Trial Motions. A motion under Rule 15.2 must be made:
"(1) In circuit court, at or before arraignment or by such later date as may be ...

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