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Ex parte Steinberg

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

September 20, 2019

Ex parte Drew James Steinberg
v.
Drew James Steinberg In re: State of Alabama Ex parte Carl Edward Romero In re: State of Alabama
v.
Carl Edward Romero Ex parte Samuel A. Maloney In re: State of Alabama
v.
Samuel A. Maloney Ex parte Whalen Reid Merrill In re: State of Alabama
v.
Whalen Reid Merrill Ex parte Ryan Thomas Pickel In re: State of Alabama
v.
Ryan Thomas Pickel Ex parte Luke Patrick Valle

          Appeal from Covington Circuit Court (CC-18-215; CC-18-216; CC-18-217; CC-18-218; CC-18-219, CC-18-78; CC-18-79; CC-18-80, CC-18-73 and CC-18-74, CC-18-282 and CC-18-283, CC-18-280 and CC-18-281, CC-18-284; CC-18-285; CC-18-286).

          PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI

          McCOOL, Judge.

         In six separate petitions, Drew James Steinberg, Carl Edward Romero, Samuel A. Maloney, Whalen Reid Merrill, Ryan Thomas Pickel, and Luke Patrick Valle each seek certiorari review of the Covington Circuit Court's denial of their petitions for expungement. The circuit court's orders denying the petitions for expungement are identical, and the arguments in each certiorari petition are identical. Thus, we address all six cases in this single opinion. Based on the following, this Court grants all six certiorari petitions and issues the writs.

         Facts and Procedural History

         The following facts are set forth in the certiorari petitions.

         A. Facts Underlying Appeal No. CR-17-1157

         On March 14, 2015, Steinberg and four other college students from Indiana University were traveling through Covington County on their way to Florida when they were stopped for speeding. Following a search of their vehicle, Steinberg and the others were charged with one felony --possession of hashish -- and four misdemeanors -- possession of drug paraphernalia, second-degree possession of marijuana, illegal possession of alcohol, and being a minor in possession of alcohol. Following completion of a pretrial diversion program, the charges were dismissed with prejudice.

         Steinberg filed a petition for expungement for each of the five charges. The prosecuting authority did not file an objection to the petition. On July 19, 2018, the circuit court denied the petition without conducting a hearing.

         B. Facts Underlying Appeal No. CR-17-1159

         On March 12, 2016, Romero, a 21-year-old college student from the University of South Carolina, was traveling through Covington County on his way to Florida when he was stopped for speeding. Following a search of his vehicle, Romero was charged with second-degree possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of untaxed alcohol. Following completion of a pretrial diversion program, the charges were dismissed with prejudice.

         Romero filed a petition for expungement as to all three charges. The prosecuting authority did not file an objection to the petition. On July 19, 2018, the circuit court denied the petition without conducting a hearing.

         C. Facts Underlying Appeal No. CR-17-1160

         On May 5, 2016, Maloney, a 21-year-old college student, was traveling through Covington County to Florida at night when he was stopped for failing to dim his headlights. Following a search of his vehicle, Maloney was charged with second-degree possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following completion of a pretrial diversion program, the charges were dismissed with prejudice.

         Maloney filed a petition for expungement as to both charges. The prosecuting authority did not file an objection to the petition. On July 19, 2018, the circuit court denied the petition without conducting a hearing.

         D. Facts Underlying Appeal No. CR-17-1181

         On March 17, 2017, Merrill, a 19-year-old traveling through Covington County on his way to Florida, was stopped at a driver's license checkpoint. An officer asked Merrill if there was anything illegal in the vehicle. Merrill admitted that there was marijuana in the vehicle and handed the marijuana to the officer. Merrill was charged with second-degree possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following completion of a pretrial diversion program, the charges were dismissed with prejudice.

         Merrill filed a petition for expungement as to both charges. The prosecuting authority did not file an objection to the petition. On July 31, 2018, the circuit court denied the petition without conducting a hearing.

         E. Facts Underlying Appeal No. CR-17-1182

         On September 5, 2016, Pickel, a 35-year-old IT consultant from Ohio, was traveling through Covington County when he was stopped for speeding. Following a search of his vehicle, Pickel was charged with second-degree possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following completion of a pretrial diversion program, the charges were nolle prossed.

         Pickel filed a petition for expungement as to both charges. The prosecuting authority did not file an objection to the petition. On July 31, 2018, the circuit court ...


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