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ROBERT ANTHONY QUINTANILLA v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal law — Sufficiency of the evidence — Drug and gun possession

Robert Quintanilla appeals his convictions for crimes related to his possession of drugs and a firearm. The contraband in question was found in a bedroom of his mother’s house, along with Mr. Quintanilla’s wallet and mail. At trial, the State argued, and the jury (presumably) agreed, that the room in question was his bedroom, and that the gun and drugs were his. Mr. Quintanilla maintains on appeal that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. As Mr. Quintanilla acknowledges, however, his trial counsel failed to preserve the issue. Because we ordinarily cannot address an unpreserved issue, Mr. Quintanilla instead argues on appeal that his attorney’s failure to preserve the issue ran afoul of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel. Because the success of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim depends on the success of his insufficient evidence argument, Mr. Quintanilla frames the issues before us in a two-part question: [1] Is the evidence sufficient to sustain the convictions and [2] did defense counsel’s failure to preserve the sufficiency issue for appellate review deny Mr. Quintanilla his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel? A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is typically addressed in a postconviction proceeding in the trial court where the reasons for the trial attorney’s conduct under scrutiny can be articulated and evaluated. If the record is sufficiently developed, however, we may in limited circumstances entertain the claim. Given the nature of Mr. Quintanilla’s complaint, this is one such instance. Because we find that …

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